Irakli Okruashvili, who was arrested late on September 27, is suspected of extortion, money laundering, misuse of power and criminal negligence, Nika Gvaramia, the deputy general prosecutor, said.
“He says he is innocent,” Beselia told reporters. “He also said he was a political prisoner.”
Last October, Gvaramia said, Okruashvili and his accomplices extorted 2.6% of shares in mobile operator company Geocell from ex-lawmaker and businessman, Jemal Svanidze.
President Saakashvili’s spokesperson, Dimitri Kitoshvili, who was also Okruashvili’s associate, was arrested on September 25 on the same charges. Gvaramia said that Kitoshvili had already given testimony against Okruashvili.
“This [Okruashvili’s involvement in the extortion] has been confirmed by the testimony of Dimitri Kitoshvili,” Gvaramia said.
In January 2005, Gvaramia said, Okruashvili, who was at that time the defense minister, suggested to his close friend, businessman Kibar Khalvashi, that he set up a construction company, International Building Company. The company eventually became “the exclusive contractor” for the Defense Ministry in all its construction projects.
“A total of three contracts worth GEL 140 million were signed between the Defense Ministry and the International Building Company,” Gvaramia said.
The third episode, Gvaramia said, involved the purchase of Okruashvili's party headquarters in downtown Tbilisi in May 2007. The party declared that it was worth USD 250,000, instead of the revenue department's estimate of USD 1.8 million. Okruashvili, it is alleged, was subsequently able to “launder money” as a result.
Gvaramia also said that an investigation is ongoing into alleged financial wrongdoings in the Ministry of Defense. “The case involves financial wrongdoing, including the misappropriation of tens of millions of Lari,” he added.
“A group of men from the criminal police came into the party headquarters and took Irakli Okruashvili without giving any explanation,” Tamar Rukhadze, Okruashvili's party spokesperson, told Civil.Ge.
“With this act President Saakashvili has actually confirmed that the allegations levelled by Okruashvili were true,” Kakha Kukava, a lawmaker from the opposition Conservative Party, said.
“The criminal, murderer president and the government has unleashed massive repression,” lawmaker Koka Guntsadze, also a member of Okruashvili’s party, said. “We will establish a resistance movement.”
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