Alleged Security Files: Money Laundering, Bribery by Senior Clergy

Formula TV has uncovered from the alleged leaked files of the State Security Service of Georgia excerpts that detail supposed money laundering, bribery and corruption among the senior clergy of the Georgian Orthodox Church. 

The Saturday Formula report said a person had appealed to Archimandrite Grigol Abashidze of the Holy Trinity Cathedral to help receive a greenlight from Georgian authorities to funnel EUR 28 million gradually from Russia into Georgia, allegedly offering a 30% cut to the clergy for sorting the matter.

According to the report, 10% of the initial EUR 500,000 of the amount would go to Metropolitan Giorgi (Shalamberidze) of the Terjola and Tkibuli Diocese and clergyman identified as I. Revishvili, while 20% would be divided up between S. Janiashvili and Grigol Abashidze and Isaia Tsetskhladze.

The latter two were also involved in a scheme to secure inmates’ pardons in exchange for money, Formula TV cited the alleged files, using their connections with Sozar Subari, Corrections Minister in 2012-2014. The report said the clergymen asked for USD 5,000 for their services. 

Responding to Formula TV journalist in the report, Abashidze confirmed his knowledge of Sozar Subari, but denied reports of personally recommending anyone for receiving a pardon. Overall, he denied the allegations uncovered by Formula TV in the alleged Security Service files as “complete nonsense.”

According to the Formula TV report, Abashidze and Tsetskhladze also received shares of the receivings from the Church donation boxes, and pondered increasing their number throughout Tbilisi.  

The alleged files seen by the TV station also concern Shorena Tetruashvili, influential assistant to Georgian Orthodox Patriarch Ilia II, who allegedly misappropriated EUR 5.8 thousand from the Patriarchate’s funds allocated to buy an automobile for the Orthodox Patriarch.

She also allegedly bought a Mercedes Benz automobile for a nun who supposedly had compromising information about her and Metropolitan Teodore (Chuadze) of Akhaltsikhe, Aspindza, Adigeni and Tao-Klarjeti Diocese. 

Thousands of documents, allegedly files of the State Security Service were leaked online on September 13. The files are largely focused on the Orthodox clergy, and contain various supposed compromising details. Besides, the documents describe conversations of opposition politicians, civil servants and foreign diplomats, supposedly gathered through illegal surveillance and wiretapping.

In response to the leaked documents, the Georgian Orthodox Patriarchate said on September 17 that some of the files contain “the truth,” but a big chunk of the files are “based on lies,” while some have the truth and lies “mixed” within.

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