TBILISI, DFWatch–The former gamgebeli of Old Tbilisi and his deputy were Wednesday released on 400 000 lari (USD 234 000) bail each.
Prosecutors wanted to keep them in detention, but Tbilisi City Hall disagreed. Defense lawyers for Lasha Purtskhvanidze and Koba Kharshiladze asked to have their clients released on 5 000 lari (USD 3000) bail each.
Both of the defendents left the courtroom. They are accused of money laundering and illegal activities while they held official posts at Old Tbilisi’s Gamgeoba, which is an administrative subdivision within a municipality headed by a gamgebeli.
When they were detained on December 16, the Finance Ministry issued a statement saying that Purtskhvanidze and Kharshiladze established the company Greenservice Ltd together with Marina Murtskhvaladze, Mamuka Murvanidze, Gela Kavtaradze and Koba Korghanashvili on May 1, 2007, and have managed the company since.
As members of the tender commission at old Tbilisi’s Gamgeoba, Purtskhvanidze and Kharshiladze announced tenders for providing instructions and expenses. Greenservice Ltd used to participate in these tenders and used to win contracts with the Gamgeoba’s purchasing services. The announced amount and types of trees and plants used to be the same as trees and plants suggested by Greenservice Ltd.
According to investigators, the establishers of Greenservice on November 16 changed the company’s factual establishers and distributed 100 percent shares of the organization. Despite the fact that the capital of the company at the time was 1 381 487 lari, they presented agreements about purchasing shares for 400 lari (USD 240) each.
After they purchased their shares, Lasha Purtskhvanadze and Koba Kharshiladze used Greenservice for money laundering on February 10, 2011, November 1, 2012, and January 25, 2012, prosecutors claim. They withdrew 1 927 237 lari as dividends.
During the previous government, the opposition and NGOs claimed that the state purchasing processes were not transparent and focused on several gamgeobas, including Old Tbilisi, where there are ancient structures and which are costly to maintain, so there was a suspicion that certain officials embezzled money in the process.
Also the tree planting caused suspicions. Kharshiladze, who used to be head of guard of deceased Prime Minister Zurab Zhvania, was appointed to the post as deputy gamgebeli as soon as Zhvania was found dead. He has been managing the planting direction at the gamgoba since then.
After he left the gamgeoba, Greenservice used to provide planting services for Tbilisi City Hall, which also caused suspicions.