Ministry of Defense said “tens of thousands” of Kalashnikov assault rifles were procured at over-inflated price at the time when Bacho Akhalaia served as the Defense Minister. Photo: MoD
Ministry of Defense said on December 6 that its internal investigations unit had found alleged corrupt schemes in weapons procurements made at over-inflated prices at the time when Bacho Akhalaia served as defense minister.
The case involves procurement of “about 40,000 old and used” Kalashnikov assault rifles with a total worth of EUR 11.15 million (about GEL 24.27 million), Andria Gotsiridze, head of the MoD’s general inspections unit, said at a news conference.
According to the MoD, AK-47 and AKS-74 assault rifles were purchased for EUR 290 each.
“The market price of these rifles is around EUR 50 for each,” Vako Avaliani, an advisor to the minister of defense, said.
He said that the case was referred to the prosecutor’s office for further inquiry.
Head of the MoD’s internal investigations unit, Andria Gotsiridze, said that an offshore entity, registered in Panama, was involved in the deal. He did not specify other details about this offshore-registered firm, which, he said, was a recipient of money transferred by the MoD for the procurement of these rifles.
Gotsiridze said that the internal investigations unit was also studying other suspicious procurements made in 2012, during Akhalaia’s term in office, involving purchase of “large quantities of military equipment”; he did not provide details, citing ongoing investigation.
“We suppose that this case will also be referred to the prosecutor’s office for further inquiry,” head of the MoD’s general inspection said.
The government first announced about this case of Kalashnikov assault rifles on November 28, when PM Bidzina Ivanishvili said that the MoD, under its previous leadership, purchased “old Kalashnikov” assault rifles “at ten-fold inflated price”.
After the PM’s statement, Dmitri Shashkin, who replaced Bacho Akhalaia on the post of Defense Minister in July and who left Georgia after the October parliamentary elections, said in a statement on his Facebook page that Kalashnikov assault rifles were procured by the MoD during Akhalaia’s tenure for the reserve troops.
“This purchase was done on the so-called ‘white market’ and it was absolutely legal. There is information about the seller and if anybody is interested, they can easily check this information because the ‘white market’ is strictly controlled and limited,” Shashkin said.
Bacho Akhalaia, who served as Defense Minister in August 2009-July 2012, is now in pretrial detention facing several criminal charges ranging from torture and illegal confinement to exceeding official powers.