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Local Government is Accused of Misappropriating State Funds

13.02.2007
gurjaanis_gamgeoba.gifThe Human Rights Center blames the Gurjaani local authority misappropriating state funds. The non-governmental organization is demanding that a criminal investigation be opened into the alleged high-ranking governmental officials involved.

“The Administrative Board’s Commandant, Aleksandre Djaniashvili’s application to the Gurjaani Interim Gamgebeli (governor), Akaki Sikharulidze: “Please, allocate 380GEL to pay the hotel “Rebi Gurjaani”s bill for the delegation visiting Gurjaani. 22. 03. 2006.”

After the application, the Gurjaani interim Gamgebeli made a resolution: “The district budget will allocate 380GEL to the Rebi Gurjaani Ltd according to the agreement to pay for serving our guests. The Financial-economics Service Department will be charged to carry out the financial operation. A. Sikharulidze, interim Gamgebeli. 11. 04. 2006.”

On April 11 of 2006, a delegation from the Urban Institute actually visited Gurjaani. However, Keti Jakheli, a representative of the organization said that they did not have any connection with the Gurjaani District Administrative Board.

“We had a meeting with Gurjaani Town Municipality and not with the Gurjaani district Administrative Board. As for the money apportioning from the budget for our service, I have spoken with the former head of the Gurjaani Municipality and Municipality members. The town budget did not spend anything on our visit.”

Journalist: Ms. Keti, the Gurjaani District Gamgebeli’s resolution #123 in 2006 was enclosed with the document issued by the hotel Rebi Gurjaani. The document states that Keti Jakheli, Giorgi Nasaridze and Eka Gogitidze stayed at the hotel.

Keti Jakheli: The District Gamgebeli’s resolution? I can tell you one thing. We do not deal with the district administration and we do not know the Gamgeblis either. Our business trip was financed by our organization and our office also paid the hotel bills. Thus, I very much doubt the allegations…Eka Gogitidze and I really represent the Urban Institute but who is Giorgi Nasaridze...We have never had such a person in our organization.

“To the Gurjaani District Gamgebeli, Akaki Sikharulidze. An exhibition of the modern agricultural tools was held at the Gurjaani Cultural Center from July 5 to July 8, 2006. An Austrian delegation visited the district to see the exhibition. The restaurant “Gaurja” Ltd served them in the park and the bill amounted to 700GEL. Please apportion the sum from the budget to pay the bill.” The request is enclosed in a report signed by the Deputy Gamgebeli, Nugzar Kvatsashvili and the Administrative Board members, Amiran Okroshidze, Giorgi Djadjanashvili, Niko Nizharadze, Nana Ramazashvili, Tamaz Abramishvili, etc. The report states that the Austrian guests were served at the restaurant “Gaurja”. The bill amounted to 700GEL and the sum must be reimbursed by the budget funds.

In fact, in July of 2006, the former Kakheti Region Governor, Bidzina Songhulashvili, hosted Austrian guests who arrived in Gurjaani. “Last year, in July, Austrian guests really visited Gurjaani, but I paid the bill myself. However, I invited them to the restaurant of the hotel Rebi Gurjaani and not to the Gaurja,” said Songhulashvili.

Gurjaani District Gamgebeli’s resolution #413 is dated to October 26, 2006. Under the resolution, 600GEL was apportioned from the district budget to pay the restaurant bill for Italian guests. The guests arrived in the district to attend the opening ceremony of a wine factory of the Georgian-Italian Company, Badagoni. The money was apportioned to the individual entrepreneur Davit Bezhashvili to serve the guests. Under the same resolution, the financial-economical service department was in charge to carry out the financial operation. The chief of the service department, Ana Kutibashvili defined that the Gamgebeli made a resolution on the basis of the request. In this particular case, Aleksandre Djaniashvili dated to October 27 enclosed the resolution in the written request. The next day, the resolution was signed. We have found the receipt on sold goods by the Ind. Entrepreneur Davit Bezhashvili, which showed that the administrative board has purchased mineral water for 600GEL from the enterprise.

According to the documents, the Gurjaani Administrative Board received guests from France, USA, Russia, Ukraine, Germany, Azerbaijan and others at different times. However, nobody knows who these guests were and what purposes of their visits were. “We do not have the list of the district guests,” said Tamaz Abramishvili, the chief of the Municipality Administration.

Zhuzhuna Papunashvili, former lawyer for the Gurjaani Administrative Board said, when Nana Ramzashvili, the head of the Legal Department was absent, I performed her work.  The accountant of the administrative board gave me a report and I signed it. At that time, Maret Siugal, and Iup Bristle had in fact visited Kakheti. The administrative board was gathering the information about the guests to apportion the money for their visit. I can get back the 160GEL, which was legally apportioned. This I can prove. Unlike the others, I have signed only one report.”

The absolute majority of the guests arrived in Kakheti at their own expenses and had no deals with the administrative board. The December 15, 2006 resolution, signed by the head of the Gurjaani Municipality can prove this fact. Written in the resolution, on December 13-15, 500GEL was allocated to the Rebi Gurjaani hotel to pay the bills for the guests’ service.
Participants of one of the World Bank’s project visited the district at that time. They held seminars regarding Avian Flu. Sofo Chakvetadze, the public relations coordinator of the project, stated in her conversation with the center that the hotel expenses were covered by the World Bank and not by some other office.

On December 15, representatives of the Administrative Board visited the Rebi Gurjaani hotel. They celebrated the appointment of the new Municipality of Gamgebeli and Ramaz Kerechashvili. The bill was paid from the budget, as usual. Abramishvili assigned the fact to the misunderstanding. Something was mixed up regarding the Avian Flu and we will fix everything…As for your questions about other expenses, the present government spent 700 GEL on December 28 and 600 GEL on December 29 to cover the expenses of serving the guests. On December 28, we hosted war veterans as our guests in the district. As for the 600 GEL, the board members spent during their second day party. We will pay the money back to the budget,” said the head of the Municipality Administration.

In 2006, the total amount of funds, apportioned form the regional budget for the purpose of serving guest amounted to 10 000 GEL. However, the local government acted in the similar way in 2004 and in 2005. In 2004, the regional budget spent 4 000 GEL to host the guests, and in 2005 the previous sum had duplicated.

The applications, demanding the funds for guests are mostly signed by Aleksandre Djaniashvili, the commandant of the Administrative Board (AB) and Amiran Okroshidze, the chief of the Infrastructure Department within the AB. Djaniashvili explained the situation as follows: “I did what I was ordered to do. How can I know who those guests were and why they had arrived in the region? They ordered me to write an application demanding certain funds and I obeyed them even though I had no idea who they were,” he defined.

As for Okroshidze, he said he had written the applications because of the controversy in the AB office. “The chief of the AB office and the accountant are from one family. Thus, I had to write the application myself.”

Journalist: No, you did not do it sometimes, you did it very often. In fact, in 2006 you signed all the applications.

Okroshidze: Maybe you are right…. Sometimes I knew who arrived in the region and the purpose of their visit. I do not remember anything else…

J: Mr. Amiran, In December 2006, don’t you remember having apportioned 500GEL to the Rebi Gurjaani hotel for hosting a seminar on Avian Flu?”

A.O. I have nothing to do with that fact.

J. You signed the report dated of December 15 2006. You tried to confirm the fact of hosting the seminar participants in that report.
A.O. We cannot confirm what was written in the report. The officials from the Financial Service Office will explain any details regarding that.

Ana Kubitashvili, the head of the Financial-Economical Service at the AB, said that Djaniashvili was ordered to take some funds from the regional budget according to the Gamgebeli’s order. As for Okroshidze, there was no similar order under what he could take money from the budget.

Journalist: Ms. Ana, what do you think, is it reasonable that the commandant of the AB and the chief of the Infrastructural Department applied for the funds?

Kubitashvili: Why are you only focusing on the commandant? It is a mistake. They must not have ordered him that job.
  
J: If it is a mistake, why was he ordered then?
A.K. I do not know. The officials from AB were to make decisions regarding the fact.
J: Ms. Ana, which guests can be financed from the regional budget?
A.K. It is up to AB to decide. It is their problem if they apportioned money illegally. It is their fault for writing the application and order.
J. Didn’t you know that the officials from the AB were apportioning money from the regional budget to serve nearly all guests in the Rebi Gurjaani hotel, though they did not serve most of them in fact?
A.K. I am responsible for those violations, but I cannot be the only person responsible for all those mistakes. You should know what was going on there?
J. What was going on? I do not know.
A.K. I cannot say anything…
The Human Rights Center’s Kakheti office stated that the local authority had a deal with Davit Papuashvili, the director of the Rebi Gurjaani hotel. The director was sending receipts and other documents to the AB. The documents provided exact information about the guests, time of their visit in the hotel and expenses.

“Former Interim Gamgebeli, Akaki Sikharulidze together with his friends and high ranking officials visited the restaurant of the above-mentioned hotel where they throw parties and indulged and splurged in great feasts. The regional budget was used to pay for their bills. The reason, why Papuashvili assisted Sikharulidze in appropriating the state funds, is obscure. It seems he personally profited from the situation,” they said at the human rights organization. 

Papuashvili denies the accusations. He claimed having no deals with anyone and has committed no crime either. “The Gamgebeli and people from the AB often visited the restaurant but they were invited by other people. Sometimes they had parties that they could not pay and ran tabs that were paid two or more weeks later. As for the facts about Urban Institute and others, I do not remember details,” said Papuashvili.

Sikharulidze and Kerechashvili failed to comment on the situation.

It should be pointed out that the Financial Police of the Kakheti region have been investigating the legality of the Municipality expenses and they have not discovered anything suspicious. Officials from the Human Rights Center blame the investigation for being one-sided. The non-governmental organization demands a criminal investigation to be opened against the above-mentioned high-ranking governmental officials.

The lawyers claimed that if those officials were found guilty, the only partying they would be doing would in a Georgian standard prison cell, which doesn’t leave much room for recreational activities for the next 5-8 years.

Gela Mtivlishvili, Kakheti

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Name: ქეთი ჯაყელი
2012-05-17 07:44
ოღონდ ის ქეთი არა, ვიზეც აქაა საუბარი და მინდა ეს დავაფიქსირო, რომ ეს ქეთი ჯაყელი სხვაა, მე,ანუ ჟურნალისტი ქეთი ჯაყელი კი სხვა ვარ... იმდენი ქეთი ჯაყელია (ღმერთმა გვამრავლოს), რომ აღარ ვიცი პირდაპირ... არადა, ყველა ნიჭიერია, ყველა საქმეშია, ყველა წერს და ყველა აქვეყნებს, ვეხუტუნე მაგათ... მერე მე მთხოვენ პასუხს...არა, ფსევდონიმით უნდა ვწერო ამის შემდეგ!..
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