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TI-Georgia: Problem of High Level Corruption Remains Severe

Transparency International-Georgia, an anti-corruption watchdog, has updated its list of alleged high-level corruption cases, involving government officials and their relatives. The list is regularly updated to reflect the high-level corruption situation in Georgia and includes information on specific cases. 

The current list includes 151 alleged cases of high-level corruption, where at least 162 high-level public officials were identified, including: 13 judges, 27 members of the Parliament, 28 prime ministers, ministers and their deputies, and 53 local government officials. 

Introducing the updated list, TI-Georgia notes that although Georgia is characterized by “impressively low levels of petty corruption,” there is almost “total impunity for high level corruption,” the ultimate form of which is the “state capture.”

TI-Georgia cites the Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index (CPI), according to which “the influence of the ruling party’s founder over key institutions meets the definition of state capture.” 

Moreover, it also states that  “the nature and scope of the cases of alleged high-level corruption and the increasing number of these cases point to an alarming conclusion that high-level corruption in Georgia is taking the form of “kleptocracy”, where officials systematically use political power to appropriate the country’s wealth and undermine all critical voices, including political opposition, media, and civil society”.

According to the TI-Georgia, although the local civil society, international assessments, public opinion polls, investigative journalists and non-governmental organizations expose the alleged cases of high-level corruption, the responsible bodies such as the Prosecutor’s Office and the State Security Service, often fail to respond effectively, especially when the cases are linked to the ruling party. 

“Even though according to Georgian legislation an investigator or prosecutor is obliged to initiate an investigation upon notification of the commission of a crime, alleged cases of corruption reported regularly by Transparency International Georgia are also left without a response,” – the watchdog says. 

In order to effectively curb the high-corruption, experts recommend transferring corruption investigation powers to an independent agency, as urged by the European Parliament, European Commission, and OECD/ACN. Currently, the fight against corruption falls within the remit of the State Security Service of Georgia (SSSG) and the Prosecutor’s Office. 

Latest additions to the TI-Georgia list include: 

  • Alleged corruption cases linked to Romeo Mikautadze, First Deputy Minister of Economy
  • Receipt of state contracts up to GEL 3 million by Razmik Gumashyan, the uncle of the senior official of the Ninotsminda Municipal Assembly. 
  • Receipt of state contracts up to GEL 28 million by former public officials Sulkhan Zumburidze and Mamuka Papuashvili. 
  • Alleged corruption cases linked to Mariam Chubinidze, a daughter of Anzor Chubinidze, the head of the Special State Protection Service. 
  • Receipt of public procurement contracts up to GEL 53 million by state-privileged company Neostar LLC. 
  • “The Feudal Lord of Javakheti.”
  • Corruption risks in Abastumani. 

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