Parliament Speaker on BBC investigation: Kezerashvili spending money “stolen from army, European pensioners” in Georgian politics

  • Papuashvili’s comment followed the BBC’s investigation into a fraudulent “call centre” scheme involving Kezerashvili, in a report that on Wednesday detailed a global network of a scam operation targeting customers. Photo: Parliament of Georgia

Agenda.ge, 12 Apr 2023 - 14:38, Tbilisi,Georgia

Georgian Parliament Speaker Shalva Papuashvili on Wednesday said the new investigation by the British public broadcaster BBC had raised suspicions that David Kezerashvili, the wanted former Defence Minister of Georgia in the United National Movement Government, was a participant in the fraudulent scheme “robbing European pensioners”.

Papuashvili’s comment followed the BBC’s investigation into a fraudulent “call centre” scheme involving Kezerashvili, in a report that on Wednesday detailed a global network of a scam operation targeting customers.

Papuashvili commented on the development by saying the money Kezerashvili was spending in support of the Georgian opposition, non-governmental sector and media was the “money stolen from the Georgian army and fraudulently obtained from European pensioners”.

Unfortunately, Kezerashvili is sheltered by Europe. We see that he is planning chaos in the country from there. We see that he himself admits that he funds political parties, the media, the non-governmental sector”, the Parliament Speaker said.

“The person who first stole €5 million from the [Georgian] army, then robbed European pensioners in a fraudulent scheme [...] is directly involved in Georgian politics, the media [and] the non-governmental sector with finances”, Papuashvili added.

The official also said he hoped European countries would “take this matter seriously” and Kezerashvili would be handed over to Georgia to face justice. 

The Tbilisi Court of Appeals last month upheld the City Court verdict of embezzlement of state funds by Kezerashvili during his time in office, and ordered him to pay €5,060,000 compensation to the Ministry of Defence. Kezerashvili served as the Minister between 2006-2008.

In its investigation, the British broadcaster said the Panama Papers, the 11.5 million documents leaked in 2016 to show financial dealings of wealthy individuals and officials across the world, had shown Kezerashvili to be at the centre of the fraudulent scheme that offered European citizens investment opportunities while defrauding them.

The uncovering of the scheme follows the BBC’s accompanying of Georgian and German law enforcement in their raids on offices of the fraudulent operation in Tbilisi in November, which came after Georgian police made arrests in October and Finance Minister Lasha Khutsishvili said in April 46 call centres operations were under investigation across the country.

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