22:29, Tuesday, 14.07.2020
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Criminal Investigation of Misappropriated IDP Funding

Gela Mtivlishvili, Kakheti

The Constitutional Security Department of the Georgian Ministry of Internal Affairs has opened a criminal investigation into unreasonable expenses and misappropriation of the funds that were allocated to meet the needs of IDPs from the Shida Kartli region. These Georgians became IDPs as a result of the war situation in August.  A reliable source reported to the Human Rights Center about the opening of the investigation. Investigators of the CSD already have interrogated several businesspersons who claim to have allocated several thousand GELS  for the purpose of assisting needy IDPs.

Reportedly, in order to assist IDPs, based on the request of the local municipality board, money was collected by governmental agencies as well as by other budget funded institutions. However, the allocated amounts were not officially registered. In addition, based on verbal directives of the regional governor, special HQs were established in the districts where local entrepreneurs and farmers worked. The businesspersons also were ordered to collect money; though it is unclear how much money was actually gathered and how. Where this money went – to whom and just how the amounts involved sums spent remains an open question.

It must be noted that non-governmental organization Human Rights Center monitored the Program for the Assistance of IDPs. The monitoring demonstrated that ten thousands of GEL was unreasonably wasted by the social service office of the local authority, which ordered businessperson and salaried employees of the governmental agencies to collect the money. Information about the expenditure for most part of the allocated sum is still unreported and not subject to standards of transparency.

Based on the same reliable source, several days ago employees of the CSD interrogated Gurma Berikashvili, director- general of the Ltd Gurjaani Ice-Cream on the issue. Berikashvili was the head of the charity HQ for IDPs in Gurjaani. However, in spite of recriminations, Berikashvili himself denies the fact of being interrogated in the first place.

Davit Macharashvili, the head of the Social Development Service within Gurjaani Municipality Board was also interrogated by the SCD. He confirms having been interrogated as to whether or not the sums were spent in a reasonable way.

Kakheti regional administration denies the fact that investigation has been launched in addressing the “unreasonable” spending of the revenues collected to help IDPs. “I cannot tell you who started the investigation about the appropriation of IDP funds. I have no information about it,” said Giorgi Ghviniashvili, Kakheti regional governor.

The Human Rights Center has since tried contact Shota Khizanishvili, the head of the Interior Ministry’s administration to seek out his comment on this important issue. Despite many attempts, Khizanishvili has not answered our phone calls. However, as he stated several days ago, “unreasonable expenditure of these sums would be a crime and the Ministry is ready to react to fact as soon as soon as we are able to get access to materials.”

According to the unofficial information, several high-ranking officials might be arrested under chargees of having wasted substantial large sums of money. Among the possible persons to be arrested, should the investigation find a crime has been committed, might be several district governors in the Kakheti region as well as local governmental employees.

This letter was ready to publish when the center learned that several unidentified people had robbed the cash-desk of the ice-cream factory in Gurjaani. Based on official information the robbers got away with 6,000 GEL.

A criminal investigation under Article 177, paragraph III of the Criminal Code was launched on the incident (premeditated robbery and illegal breaking into the safe). Gurjaani police department is leading the investigation but they do not have any suspects as yet.

According to the spread information the robbery in the Gurjaani Ice-cream Factory is connected with the criminal persecution on the appropriation of IDP funds. The sums for IDPs were reserved in the safe of the ice-cream factory.

It must be pointed out that security police guards the factory 24 hours a day and when the robbery occurred.

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