Copenhagen Police have dropped embezzlement and fraud charges against neuroscientist Milena Penkowa.
Penkowa was accused by the national neuroscience society, Dansk Selskab for Neurovidenskab, of embezzlement and documentation fraud in 2010 and was in March of that year suspended from her job at the University of Copenhagen (KU). The university then pressed charges against Penkowa on suspicions that she had provided false documentation and photographs of experiments involving 700 rats. In August 2012, a year-long investigation found 15 instances of scientific malpractice in Penkowa’s 79 published articles. The malpractice includes missing data, irregularities in the number of recorded tests of animals, and the manipulation of photographs that illustrated the neuroscientist's results.
Penkowa was also accused of fraud with 5.65 million kroner of research funds she received. It was found that 2.1 million kroner of those research funds were spent on project that did not fulfil the requirements and rules set by the donor foundation, IMK Almene Fond. KU paid IMK Almene Fond that money back and Penkowa was also forced to pay back 276,380 kroner that was spent on legal fees.
But judging that there was not enough evidence to secure a guilty verdict, police now have dropped the charges against the controversial neuroscientist.
“After large-scale media interests through a number of years, my client is satisfied that her name is finally cleared and she is looking forward to putting the case behind her,” Kåre Pihlman, Penkowa’s lawyer, told Ritzau.
Penkowa now has the opportunity to file a claim for compensation.