Finance Ministry’s investigations service, which is in charge of probing into financial wrongdoings, said on June 28 that four senior officials from the capital city municipality were arrested in connection to ongoing investigation into “embezzlement and misspending” of GEL 48.9 million from the Tbilisi Development Fund, the municipal entity designed to finance rehabilitation of old parts of the capital city.
Deputy mayor of Tbilisi Davit Alavidze; head of the Tbilisi Development Fund Davit Avaliani; head of the procurement service in the Tbilisi City Hall Alexi Tabuashvili and deputy head of capital city's Mtatsminda district Dimitri Chkheidze were arrested late on June 27.
The case, the investigations service said, consists of three episodes with all of them related to use of public funds for covering various expenses of President Saakashvili’s UNM party in 2011-2012.
The first episode, according to the authorities, involves funneling GEL 13.85 million of Tbilisi municipality funds for financing UNM party and its activists through creating 719 fictitious jobs in the Tbilisi Development Fund; the investigations service said that money was transferred from November, 2011 till June, 2012 in a form of monthly wages on salary cards issued to 719 persons, who were fictitiously employed at the Tbilisi Development Fund as “building research specialists.”
These persons, according to the Finance Ministry’s investigations service, were not even aware of existence of these salary cards; it said that these salary cards were in possession of Alexi Tabuashvili; Davit Avaliani; Dimitri Chkheidze and several dozen of other employees of the capital city’s municipality, who in a period between November, 2011 and June, 2012 withdrew and “misspent” municipality funds in a total amount of GEL 13,852,497.
The investigations service also said that “most of these 719 persons” who were registered as employees of the Tbilisi Development Fund were previously employed in 2010 also factiously in TbilService Group, an entity run by the Tbilisi municipality to provide waste management services to the capital city. Tbilisi Mayor, Gigi Ugulava, is facing “misspending and embezzlement” charges in connection to this case of alleged creation of factious jobs in TbilService Group in 2010.
In a second episode, related to the first one, the investigations service said, that deputy mayor of Tbilisi Davit Alavidze and then head of the Tbilisi Development Fund, Giorgi Sabanadze, “canceled” salary cards in June, 2012 and started withdrawing funds from bank account of the Tbilisi Development Fund; total of GEL 34.32 million was withdrawn and “misappropriated” in seven installments in a period of June-October, 2012.
In a third episode, the investigations service said, that in February, 2012 the Tbilisi Development Fund contracted two private companies, which till June, 2012 were providing buffet services at the events hosted by UNM; GEL 719,862 was spent on this purpose from the budget of the Tbilisi Development Fund, according to the Finance Ministry’s investigations service.
“In overall, GEL 48,930,822 was embezzled and misspent from the Tbilisi Development Fund,” the investigations service said and added that the probe into the case was still ongoing.