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Former Mtskheta-Mtianeti governor detained

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Thursday, September 19
Former governor of Mtskheta-Mtianeti, Cesar Chocheli and former Deputy Minister of Economy Davit Giorgadze have been detained. The investigation service of the Ministry of Finance claims that the individuals appropriated a large amount of state funds.

The investigation service reports that Georgian Railway announced a tender on the purchase of 471,000 iron sleepers costing 76,798, 074 GEL in 2010. The only factory that produced the sleepers during that period in Georgia was the Iron Sleepers Company, which was under the ownership of the state.

“The cost of each sleeper was groundlessly increased from 27GEL to 163 GEL in the tender that enabled the tender winning company to make an additional profit of 12 million GEL. Chocheli became interested in the tender and while purchasing the factory, he tried to buy it at a lower price,” the investigation service states, adding that for fulfilling the plan, Chocheli contacted Giorgadze. They agreed on the price and Chocheli, through the manipulations, bought the state property for GEL 19 million. The factory is still in the ownership of Chocheli.

The crime envisages imprisonment from 9 to 12 years.

Chocheli stated that his detention concerning sleepers has nothing in common “with a real problem.” He stressed that the current Georgian leadership is fighting against him and his family.

In his earlier interviews, Chocheli states that in 2010, Georgian Railway announced a tender concerning sleepers and his construction group participated in the tender.

“We did not know anything about the existence of the sleeper factory in Georgia. The factory participated in the tender and they won. However, the factory could not participate in the tender, as it could not produce the sleepers Georgian Railway had asked for,” Chocheli stated. He stressed that after a month, the factory with the tender came out on sale.

“We participated in the tender. However, in order to participate, we needed 7 million GEL . We addressed various banks for the money. The factory was absolutely destroyed, it could not produce anything. We prepared a business plan and finally TBC bank financed us. After we won the tender,” Chocheli stated.

Chocheli also claimed that there was a negative campaign ongoing against him. He stressed that the campaign will bring nothing positive to anyone fighting against him. Chocheli has stated that he has always acted based on law and did much for development of his region and the Georgian economy. Chocheli emphasized that the prime minister was wrongly informed concerning his activities.

After Georgian Dream government took office, several businesspersons stated on TV and appealed to the court against Chocheli. They claimed that Chocheli appropriated their businesses and that they were illegally detained for creating obstacles for Chocheli’s business intentions. The cases are being investigated.

Under the new government of Georgia, Chocheli has been detained for the second time. Firstly, he was detained on January 24 on charges related to illegal entrepreneurship and money laundering, and released on 200,000 GEL bail.

Prosecutors wanted Choceli to be sent to pretrial detention pending trial.

The Finance Ministry’s investigative service said then that while serving as governor, Chocheli was “illegally involved” in the businesses through a construction and energy company called New Energy, which was a state contractor in various projects. It claims that Chocheli received about GEL 5.4 million as undeclared income.