The State Security Service of Georgia announced today that the Anti-Corruption Agency has detained the chief accountant of the Gori Municipal Hall-run Agency for Promoting Development of Culture and Tourism over misappropriating at least GEL 144 thousand (USD 47 thousand) in public funds.
The accountant systematically transferred the money to personal accounts at two commercial banks and spent them on online betting services, the SSG said.
The Security Service noted that investigators are continuing to examine the relevant financial documents and bank statements and the number of uncovered misappropriated funds could possibly “increase drastically.”
It added that the investigation is ongoing over the misappropriation of funds in large sums and using the official position, a crime under Article 182 (2d, 3b) of the Criminal Code that envisages imprisonment from seven to eleven years.
The State Audit Office initially uncovered the transactions during its annual examination of the Gori Municipal Hall for 2020-2021, and alerted the authorities.
It told Civil.ge on April 12 that the dubious transactions came in at about GEL 500 thousand (USD 162 thousand) according to the initial findings, as the audit was ongoing.
While the State Audit Office did not then disclose the identity of the suspect or the destination of the funds, government-critical TV networks were reporting that the accountant of the Culture and Tourism Agency had funneled the money to gambling accounts.
The media also claimed that the accountant was a participant in a larger corruption scheme at the Gori Municipal Hall.
Former Gori Mayor Konstantine Tavzarashvili (2017-2021) and former Head of Gori Culture and Tourism Development Agency Gela Kapanadze (2019-2021) had denied having any knowledge of the alleged scheme in comments with Formula TV.