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Court sent heads of developer company to prison

By Tea Mariamidze
Monday, April 3
Tbilisi City Court upheld the evidence submitted by the Prosecution and found Maia Rcheulishvili and her sister, ex-official Rusudan Kervalishvili, founders of the Center Point Group construction company, guilty in fraud and misspending.

Kervalishvili was detained right in the courtroom after the verdict was announced, while Rcheulishvili couldn’t attend the trial due to the poor health condition.

Prosecutor’s office of Georgia (POG) reports that legal proceedings over the case have been in progress for four years at Tbilisi City Court.

They stressed 411 persons have been interrogated, 157 investigative actions have been carried out, including the seizure of the complete documentations representing the activities of the companies within Center Point Group.

“Evidence revealed that in 1999, Maia Rcheulishvili and Rusudan Kervalishvili founded Center Point Group, which aimed to raise the capital attracted from citizens and implement construction projects. However, there were facts of fraud and embezzlement of the funds of the developers committed by the Center Point management, which made it impossible for the company to fulfill the obligations it had undertaken for the developers,” the POG stated.

The POG also says that overall, in the present criminal case, Maia Rcheulishvili and Rusudan Kervalishvili obtained USD 5,548,341 and GEL 20,692,408 in a fraudulent manner. They were sentenced to six years in prison which was reduced by 1/3 since the Amnesty Act of Georgia adopted on December 28, 2012, was applied, and eventually, they have been sent to prison for four years.

Moreover, POG expressed its willingness to strike a plea bargain with the defendants for a conditional sentence, in case if the defendants entirely recompensed the losses of the victims. However, the POG says that “the defendants have never indemnified any losses or completed the objects under construction.”

The lawyers and the family members of the arrested say they would appeal the verdict to the Court of Appeals and stress the imprisonment could bring no benefits for the affected people.

They offer the state to remove sequester from the company property that will enable them to sell the part of the real estate and meet the obligations.

The affected people were also not happy with the court’s verdict as many of them said the prison term was “minimal”.

According to the survey of the non-governmental organization Transparency International-Georgia, the Center point Group founders in the whole attracted $310 million from the customers, which had to be spent on constructions in various places. As a result of the fraud, around 6200 families got affected.

Centre Point Group went bankrupt after the 2008 war. The company was taken over by DEXUS which promised to fulfill the obligations of the Centre Point Group. However, the situation remained unchanged.