Eurojust official hails Georgia as “very strong player” in investigations of complex transnational crime

Boštjan Škrlec, the Vice President of Eurojust, arrived in Georgia on Wednesday. Photo: Prosecutor General’s Office, 06 Jul 2023 - 12:21, Tbilisi,Georgia

Boštjan Škrlec, the Vice President of Eurojust, the European Union’s Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation based in the Hague, on Wednesday hailed Georgia as a “very strong player” in the investigation of complex transnational crime. 

Speaking with Rustavi 2 TV channel following his visit to Tbilisi, the official also said the presence of Georgia’s permanent representative in Eurojust demonstrated the “great progress” achieved between the EU body and the country's law enforcement agencies over the years. 

Škrlec highlighted the “close cooperation” was beneficial both for his agency and Georgia, adding the “intensive ties” allowed Tbilisi to “more effectively” communicate with offices of prosecutors in Eurojust’s member states, while the latter could rely on Georgia as  a “guarantor of quality and reliability” in investigations.

Pointing to Eurojust’s priority to investigate complex transnational crime, Škrlec described networks of organised crime as “very complicated and hard to combat”, adding “we cannot fight them alone, because the scope of such crimes does not stop at the EU borders”.

If we want to fight transnational crime, we need to cooperate with international partners like Georgia, whose contribution to the process is very important. We do not dictate to the authorities of any country how to conduct an investigation, we only support them in this process", he added. 

Škrlec was also asked about a report by the British Public Broadcaster in April 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 David Kezerashvili, Georgia’s currently wanted former Defence Minister - to be at the centre of a 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.

The European official said he was unable to make any comments on the case due to interests of the ongoing investigation.

In his comments for the channel on the cooperation between the institution and Georgian authorities, Giorgi Gogadze, the Liaison Prosecutor of Georgia at Eurojust, said obtaining evidence was “very difficult” when it came to organised crime, noting such schemes in most cases involved wealthy individuals with experienced lawyers and financial advisors, with companies registered offshore. 

He said his country had participated in a number of special operations against transnational crime on the territory of Georgia, the EU and the United States, reaffirming “no single country can achieve an effective result if there is no joint cooperation”.