Georgia’s ex-Defence Minister Kezerashvili “revealed” as “international scammer” in BBC investigation - PM

  • Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili on Tuesday commented on the BBC investigation involving the country’s wanted former Defence Minister. Photo: Government press office, 18 Apr 2023 - 15:48, Tbilisi,Georgia

Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili on Tuesday said the British Broadcasting Corporation’s investigation that alleged links of Georgia’s wanted former Defence Minister David Kezerashvili in an international fraud scheme had led to “truth” being “revealed” in the dealings of the former official, whom he called an “international scammer”.

Garibashvili was commenting on the BBC report that 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 scheme, in which fake call centre operators pretending to represent legitimate agencies offered investment opportunities to their targets in Europe while defrauding them of funds.

In his comments at the weekly Government meeting, the PM stressed European citizens had suffered the losses of about one billion euros in the fraudulent scheme, with Kezerashvili using a portion of the money to fund the “radical wing” of the domestic Georgian opposition. 

The head of the Government also noted the country’s law enforcement agencies had been cooperating with German investigative services for two years and made “significant contributions” to solving the case. 

Garibashvili claimed it was “sad and catastrophic” to see a Georgian citizen who “earlier robbed the country’s armed forces” later develop a scheme to “rob European pensioners”, in reference to Kezerashvili’s conviction of embezzlement of funds during his time in office in Georgia.

I want to tell our European friends that when they meet representatives of radical Georgian opposition groups, they should remember they are funded by the money defrauded from their citizens”, Garibashvili said. 

He also urged the part of the domestic opposition to “apologise” instead of being engaged in “destructive actions”, and “make explanations” to both Georgian and European citizens over the sources of their funding. 

Kezerashvili is wanted in Georgia for embezzlement of state funds during his time as the Defence Minister in the United National Movement Government between 2006-2008, with the Tbilisi Court of Appeals last month upholding the City Court verdict on the case and ordering him to pay €5,060,000 in compensation to the Ministry.