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Director General of Rustavi 2, Former Energy Minister Detained

Published: December 19, 2012 | 6:11 pm
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The COMMERCIAL TIMES

Director General of Rustavi 2 broadcasting company Nika Gvaramia (who was a government member till late 2009) was arrested on December 19 after a 7-hour interrogation at the Investigation Department of the Ministry of finance of Georgia. He has been sent to the pre-trial detention center of the city.

Along with the head of the TV-channel, former Energy Minister Alexander Khetaguri as well as three other persons were also detained for alleged corruption same day. Among the arrested is Devi Kandelaki, CEO of Telasi, an electricity distributor company in Tbilisi in which 75% of shares are owned by Russia’s state-controlled power trader Inter RAO.

A partner at a business consulting company GDC Solutions, Kakha Damenia, who was Deputy Economy Minister in 2005-2008, is also among the arrested.

The investigation service of the ministry of finance said in the official statement that in summer, 2012 then Energy Minister Alexander Khetaguri entered into a corrupt deal with Telasi through which the electricity distributor in the capital city and three of its daughter companies were able to evade “paying tens of millions of Lari in taxes” in exchange of paying USD 1 million.

According to MOF’s investigations service, then energy minister Khetaguri was approached by Vadim Mityushin, a representative of Inter RAO, the Russian power trader which owns Telasi, and offered to strike an agreement with the state to prevent tax scrutiny of Telasi and three of its power generation companies – Khramhesi 1; Khramhesi 2 and Mtkvari Energy.

Georgian authorities have claimed that Devi Kandelaki, who by then was CEO of Telasi’s daughter companies Khramhesi 1, Khramhesi 2 and Mtkvari Energy, was involved in “this illegal negotiations”, who “offered Alexander Khetaguri USD 1 million as a bribe in exchange of securing the state consent on launching talks on tax agreement.”

“Khetaguri accepted this proposal,” MOF’s investigations service said in a statement.

It said that Khetaguri asked his associate Nika Gvaramia, who was deputy chief prosecutor in 2007, Justice Minister in 2008 and education minister till late 2009, to engage in talks with Kandelaki and elaborate a scheme to receive USD 1 million.

Gvaramia became chief executive of one of the leading Georgian television stations, Rustavi 2, in mid-November.

The authorities have claimed that Gvaramia asked his friend Giorgi Nemsitsveridze to register a shell company, Elendef Service, which became a recipient of USD 1 million from Telasi and its daughter companies under a sham deal as if in exchange for providing consultancy. The authorities have claimed that Nemsitsveridze withdraw funds on August 30, 2012 and handed them over to Nika Gvaramia. Nemsitsveridze has also been arrested.

The investigations service of the MOF also alleged that Gvaramia asked his friend Kakha Damenia, a partner at GDC Solutions, to get involved in the scheme by striking contract with Elendef Service and to act as a sham sub-contractor in providing consultancy to Telasi and its daughter companies.

Statement by Founder of Rustavi 2 Broadcasting Company

Founder of Rustavi 2 Broadcasting Company Mr. Giorgi Karamanashvili, who is not in the country now, has released a special statement.

“We, founders of the TV-channel consider the detention of the director general of Rustavi 2 Broadcasting Company as a direct pressure on the independent media organization and an attempt to hamper work of the TV-company.

“I`m not in Georgia now but I`ll return to Tbilisi as soon as possible. Meanwhile, I address all the employees of Rustavi 2 – to continue working regardless of the current situation in order to avoid creating any kind of danger to the proper functioning  work of the channel”, the statement says.

Statement by employees of Rustavi 2 Broadcasting Company

Employees of Rustavi 2 Broadcasting Company have released a statement regarding the detention of the director general of the company.

“At 11 a.m. today the director general of the channel arrived at the investigation service of the ministry of finance for interrogation as soon as he had been summoned. He does not refuse to cooperate with law enforcers in favor of the investigation process.

“Therefore, the TV-company addresses investigation service of the ministry of finance and the chief prosecutor`s office to release the director general of the TV-channel before the investigation is over and not to make a plea for a pre-trial detention as a preventive measure.

“Otherwise, the detention of the director general of Rustavi 2 will be considered as an attempt to hamper the work of the TV-channel and put pressure on it.

“We address relevant state agencies to allow the director general of the TV-company to continue his work”, the statement says.

Source: Rustavi 2

 

 

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