TBILISI, DFWatch–Prosecutor’s Office on Tuesday questioned an influential Georgian economist in connection with an investigation into possible embezzlement when the Agricultural University was privatized.
Kakha Bendukize, an influential businessman and free market ideologue during former President Mikheil Saakashvili, is not personally a target in the investigation.
Bendukidze was an important ideologue for free market liberalization during Saakashvili. He pushed for removing labor protection, abolishing different institutions like the anti-corruption department, and was often criticized for selling government property, like railway, forests and seaports.
He owns two large universities in Georgia – the Free University and the Agricultural University, and served as government minister, first as minister of economy in 2004, and later state minister for reform coordination, which he remained until 2008.
Now, the Prosecutor’s Office is studying how the privatization of the Agricultural University took place, to see if there was any violation of law.
But the investigation is limited to embezzlement, and since Bendukidze wasn’t a public official at that time, he cannot be prosecuted in this case.