State returns $400,000 of property illegally seized by ex-gov’t

A representative of Georgia’s Chief Prosecutor’s Office met the three people who had their property illegally confiscated by the ex-government. Photo by Georgia’s Chief Prosecutor’s Office., 13 Sep 2016 - 15:04, Tbilisi,Georgia

The Government of Georgia is returning almost $400,000 worth of property and vehicles that were illegally seized during the former government.

Today Georgia’s Chief Prosecutor’s Office announced three individuals who had their personal property confiscated by officials of the former United National Movement (UNM) government would have their land and goods returned to them.

The seized property included 13 cars, five quad bikes (ATVs) and two plots of land. The total value of these goods reached $399,000. 

The goods were seized between 2008 and 2010, said the Office.

According to today’s statement, in 2008 Georgia’s Constitutional Security Department detained a Georgian man named Vazha Tsigroshvili and demanded he purchase several cars and ATVs in exchange for a plea bargain. Tsigroshvili was forced to use his own money to buy 13 cars and five ATVs, collectively worth $216,000, and hand them over to the state.

After making the purchase the Prosecutor’s Office at the time signed a plea bargain with Tsigroshvili and he was released from prison.

Meanwhile the second and third cases opened by the Prosecutor’s Office concerned the illegal seizure of land. 

Several years ago Georgian citizen Pridon Baratashvili purchased just over 12,000m2 of land in Kutaisi city. In 2009 Baratashvili was summoned to the Prosecutor’s Office and forced to give 7,000m2 of his land, worth $78,000 at the time, to the state. 

He was blackmailed and forced to comply, despite the fact he legally owned the land, said today’s statement. 

The third case dated back to 2010 when Georgia citizen David Kupatadze was summoned to the Investigation Department of Georgia’s Ministry of Finance and forced to hand over a 490m2 plot of non-agricultural land in Tbilisi. If he refused, he would be arrested. 

Kupatadze complied and handed over his land to the state. At the time his land was worth $104,000.

In 2015 Georgia’s Chief Prosecutor’s Office created a special department that was tasked to investigate alleged illegalities committed under the UNM-led government, which ran the country from 2003 to 2012. 

Since its creation, the department recognised 79 individuals were victims of the former government. These people had regained or will soon regain their properties, worth more than $8 million. Among the illegally seized properties were 65 cars, apartments, plots of land, office and commercial spaces, a vinery, a swimming complex and other real estate. 

The department has also: 

  • Opened 44 cases investigating illegal seizure of property; 
  • Charged 32 ex-state servants of committing crimes; 
  • Prosecuted seven individuals; 
  • Issues discretion orders against 23 people, who cooperated with the investigation and were not sent to prison;
  • Suspended investigations involving two ex-state servants, as they are deceased.