On January 27, the court of Adjara Autonomous Republic has sent former Mayor of Batumi, Giorgi Ermakov (2014-2017) to seven years in prison for embezzlement. However, the latter denies the charges.
Other detainees included Deputy Minister of Education, Culture and Sport of Adjara, Bagrat Manvelidze; Deputy Minister of Finance and Economy of Adjara, Archil Vanadze; Deputy Mayor of Batumi, Tengiz Petridze; as well as three senior officials from the Batumi City Hall – Egarslan Lomadze, Vladimir Khintibidze and Beka Khalvashi.
According to the prosecutor’s office, the investigation uncovered a corrupt scheme in Batumi Municipality’s tender procedures for the so called “Cheap House” project in October 2015. All of the detained were members of the tender commission at the time.
The detained were charged with rigging the procurement tender for social housing in favor of a single company – “Convent Georgia” – which did not meet the legal and financial requirements.
Adjara TV, Batumi-based public broadcaster, reported today that judge Davit Mamiseishvili considered that ex-Mayor Ermakov was solely responsible for the embezzlement, while the others – except from Vanadze, who was released from the courtroom – have been charged for negligence.
Therefore, Petridze, Manvelidze, Khintibidze and Khalvashi, who were released on bail in October 2019, will have to post GEL 20,000 each as fine, while Lomadze will – in addition to the fine – spend six months in jail, as he has already spent eight months in pre-trail detention.