Finance Ministry’s investigations service and prosecutor’s office have accused Tbilisi Mayor’s Office of misspending GEL 5.24 million of public funds by creating hundreds of fictitious job positions in a municipal service through which funds were channeled to pay salaries of UNM party activists.
Finance Ministry’s investigations service said on January 31 that in late December, 2009 then head of the Tbilisi municipality’s waste management service Tariel Khizaneishvili, who is now vice mayor of the capital city, instructed TbilService Group, a state-owned entity in charge of providing waste management and other services which is run by the Tbilisi municipality, to create Group’s fictitious public relations department.
Finance Ministry’s investigations service said that in a course of two years total of 764 people, who were UNM activists, were fictitiously employed in this public relations department, receiving salaries from the Tbilisi municipality budget, but in fact performing various activists for UNM party.
It also said that Tbilisi Mayor Gigi Ugulava approved TbilService Group’s personnel and salary fund in August, 2010.
No charges have yet been filed against anyone; the investigations service said that probe was still ongoing.
Chief Prosecutor Archil Kbilashvili told Maestro TV on January 31 that over 200 people were questioned in the course of the ongoing investigation and did not rule out that Tbilisi Mayor Gigi Ugulava might also be summoned for interrogation.
Tbilisi Mayor Gigi Ugulava, who is President Saakashvili close ally and one of the UNM leaders, said in response on January 31 that it was “a classical example of brazen political persecution.”
“Instead of delivering on its promises, the new government is persecuting political opponents,” Ugulava said. “It turns out that we employed over 700 people… and that their only crime, according to investigation, is that they are UNM activists.”
Ugulava said that over 700 people were hired at the time by the Tbilisi municipality to communicate with Tbilisites need for removing garbage containers from inside the residential apartments outside the apartment buildings for sanitary reasons.
“Yes these people were working and they had specific assignment. During that period a very painful process [of relocating garbage containers] was ongoing. This issue required communication [with Tbilisi residents]; it required lots of people who were going door-by-door, explaining [to Tbilisites] the need for this measure; these people were hired for this specific purpose,” Ugulava said.