New charge against ex-Defence Minister

As Kezerashvili is in hiding, he was charged in absentia. Photo from, 07 May 2014 - 18:19, Tbilisi,Georgia

Georgia’s ex-Defence Minister David Kezerashvili, who is internationally wanted by Interpol, is facing a new charge of embezzling more than €5 million (12 million GEL).

Today’s statement by the Chief Prosecutor’s Office revealed in 2008 Kezerashvili, then-Defence Minister, signed a contract with "Girwood Business Corporation,” which was registered at the Virgin Islands in an offshore zone. The contract targeted at conducting combat trainings to the relevant sub-units of the Ministry of Defence of Georgia.

The Ministry paid €5,060,000 to the company but the latter never provide the agreed training. The company did not even have any experience of conducting military trainings, the Chief Prosecutor’s Office claimed.

Former head the State Procurement Department of the Defence Ministry, Alexandre Ninua, was also involved in the case, the Prosecutor’s Office said.

"Kezerashvili and Ninua embezzled €5,060,000 in favour of the company "Girwood Business Corporation’’ with the use of official position and in absence of combat trainings foreseen by the contract itself. Consequently, the Ministry of Defence of Georgia suffered from material damage in a large quantity,” the prosecutors said.

Kezerashvili and Ninua have been charged under Article 182 of the Criminal Code of Georgia, which could result in seven to 11 years imprisonment if the men are found guilty.

Georgian prosecutors earlier accused Kezerashvili of bribe-taking, smuggling and money laundering. He is also facing charges of alienating Georgian TV station Imedi in 2008.

Georgia’s former Minister of Defence was named on the Interpol wanted list before he was arrested and detained in France on October 10, 2013, in accordance with Georgia’s request.

Several months’ later a French court of law decided not to extradite Kezerashvili to Georgia despite him facing multiple criminal charges in his homeland, including corruption. He was released from a French prison in February 2014.

Secret documents revealing the income and the extent of Kezerashvili’s business were leaked to Georgian media in January 2014. A document prepared by international audit company Deloitte Limited showed the turnover of his company had increased to more than 795 million USD in 2012.

Also, letters from United National Movement (UNM) and ex-President Saakashvili to French authorities, dated November 2013, were published. The former President called Kezerashvili a key leader of the UNM team and the main fundraiser of the party, and asked French authorities not to extradite the ex-Defence Minister.

See details about the profits and turnover of Kezerashvili’s company in the infographics below.