Accused of Misspending, Saakashvili Faces New Charges
Georgian Prosecutor’s Office said on Wednesday it will file new criminal charges against former President Mikheil Saakashvili, accusing him of misspending GEL 8.83 million (about USD 5.1 million) of public funds between September, 2009 and February, 2013.
New charges against Saakashvili, who is already charged with exceeding of official authorities in two separate cases, stem from allegations that he used funds allocated from the state budget to the Special State Protection Service (SSPS), the agency in charge of providing security to high-ranking officials, for his and his close allies, friends and family members’ personal purposes.
These allegations first emerged in April, 2013 when previously classified cache of dozens of documents, including spending records from SSPS, payment receipts and invoices from hotels and other service providers, were made public after their declassification.
Spending records, among others, include expenditures on staying in luxury hotels and spa resorts, visits to aesthetic clinics and purchase of clothing.
Prosecutor’s Office said on August 13 that investigation is carried out under article 182 of criminal code, involving misspending/embezzlement of large amount of funds and carrying imprisonment from 7 to 11 years as punishment.
Former head of SSPS, Temur Janashia, will also face criminal charges in the same case, according to the Prosecutor’s Office.
Prosecutor’s Office said that part of SSPS spending was classified as secret in April, 2009 to make expenditures allocated for Saakashvili’s “personal purposes” unavailable for public scrutiny.
UNM opposition party, which is chaired by Saakashvili, said new charges, like the previous ones against the former president, is politically motivated. Saakashvili’s defense lawyer, Otar Kakhidze, told Rustavi 2 TV that his client considers these charges filed by the authorities, which had a shortfall in budgetary revenues last year, as “cynical.” Former head of SSPS, Temur Janashia, who has been summoned by prosecutors on August 13, also denies any wrongdoing.
Prosecutor’s Office said that on top of the expenses, which were deemed by investigators as misspending of public funds, spending of GEL 20 million in 2009-2012 from presidential and SSPS budgets is also being investigated.
This is the latest in series of criminal charges filed against Georgia’s former president over the past two weeks.
Saakashvili was charged late last month with exceeding official authorities in connection with the break up of anti-government protests on November 7, 2007 and raid on and “seizure” of Imedi TV. Court ordered pre-trial detention for Saakashvili in absentia on August 2 in connection to these charges.
Additional charges of exceeding official powers were filed against him on August 5 in which the prosecution claims Saakashvili ordered beating up of an opposition lawmaker in 2005.