Mayor of Tbilisi Gigi Ugulava. (Interpressnews.)

TBILISI, DFWatch–Mayor of Tbilisi Gigi Ugulava was on Wednesday questioned at the Prosecutor’s Office in case about embezzlement of City Hall money by employees.

The Prosecutor’s Office on Wednesday explained charges to the mayor which may lead to him being jailed for seven to eleven years.

According to the Prosecutor’s Office, the case concerns appropriation of money by the employees of Old Tbilisi Rehabilitation and Development Foundation and Tbilisi Development Fund.

The Office’s statement says that in the course of the investigation, evidence was discovered that Tbilisi City Hall founded Tbilisi Development Fund on July 16, 2010. The mayor together with officials of Tbilisi City Hall prepared an illegal scheme to finance the election campaign for National Movement party for the parliamentary election in 2012.

Through the scheme, debit cards were prepared for specialists who had fictitious agreements with Tbilisi Development Fund for researching 719 construction projects in Tbilisi. Investigators claim these people were in fact not specialists, but activists for the UNM.

Money from Tbilisi Development Fund was transferred to these cards in order to carry out election campaign activities, the statement says.

From November 2011 to June 2012, 13 852 497 lari (USD 8 million) was embezzled for party political purposes. Later, in June-October, 34 328 463 lari (USD 20 million) was embezzled.

The investigation is still ongoing.

Ugulava told journalists after leaving the Prosecutor’s Office that his questioning was politically motivated as he had to give the same testimony as in previous cases.

“The only difference is that I had to go to the court of Rustavi instead of Tbilisi,” he said, adding that the local election is coming closer and the government has a hard time because it is presenting an ‘inadequate’ candidate in the mayoral race.

Ugulava said he believes the government is trying to somehow get rid of other candidates and today’s questioning was part of this attempt, in his opinion.

The mayor thanked supporters of the National Movement who organized a support rally outside and applauded as he left.