Administration, faculty and staff at the Link Campus university in Rome, formerly an offshoot of the University of Malta, are facing indictments in Florence over a system of “easy exams”, a suspected fraudulent scheme to pass unprepared students for their degrees.

Just under 70 persons are facing indictments including former Italian foreign minister Vincenzo Scotti who has run the university since it was set up as a Roman branch of the University of Malta. The University of Malta severed its ties with the Link campus during the tenure of former rector Juanito Camilleri in 2006.

Florence prosecutor Christina von Borries is charging Vincenzo Scotti and several others with fraud and association in a criminal organisation. A two-year investigation looked at the granting of a three-year degree course in political sciences and international relations and a Master’s course in strategic studies and diplomatic sciences. Investigators found students missed classes and then sat for unsupervised exams.

Investigators also say students would know exam questions in advance and would be allowed to consult the internet whilst filling out exam responses. Former Italian foreign minister Vincenzo Scotti will face the charge of having been the “promoter, breeder and organiser of the association”. He’ll be indicted along the university’s director general Pasquale Russo, its rector, members of the senate, teachers, researchers, administrators and students.

Vincenzo Scotti, seen here in a 1990 photo as Italian Foreign Minister signing an agreement with Maltese ministers on drug enforcement.

Link campus made the world headlines over the past few years in connection with Joseph Mifsud, “the mystery professor” from Malta who hopped from the University of Malta to Link campus and remained there after Malta’s university cut ties with its former subsidiary.

Read more in this report from Il Fatto Quotidiano.

From the book this author co-wrote with Carlo Bonini and John Sweeney, Murder on the Malta Express: Who Killed Daphne Caruana Galizia?:

From 2015, Mifsud’s operational base moved to Rome. He reportedly bought a stake in what was the old Italian campus of the University of Malta, renamed the Link Campus University and established the Rome Academy of Diplomacy – a chip off the London Academy of Diplomacy. Link Campus University appeared on the surface to be a credible institution, having respectable names on its advisory board including a magistrate well known for prosecuting corruption cases. It had a beautiful building but hardly any students: 300, if that. There were rumours that the institution was dodgy and secretly linked to Russians. Mifsud was part of the senior management at Link Campus University.

The inner circle at the top of Link Campus University featured Italians with important political and security connections. The biggest security fish was Vincenzo Scotti, the president of the university, and Italy’s minister of the interior from 1990-92, then minister of foreign affairs. Link also boasted Pasquale Russo, who is the president of the Consortium for Research on Intelligence and Security Services, and Professor Franco Frattini, a former foreign affairs minister under Silvio Berlusconi who is rumoured to be close to the Kremlin.