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Center Point under the pressure

By Tea Mariamidze
Tuesday, July 12
The Prosecutorís Office of Georgia has launched an investigation into the employees and founders of the Center Point Group construction company for fraud and misspending.

The police detained two representatives of the Companyís management, Irakli Mindeli, head of an investment project in Batumi, and Salome Charkviali, sales manager of Center Point. The police also intended to arrest the chairman of the supervisory board, Guram Rcheulishvili, but he cannot be found.

According to the statement of the Prosecutorís Office released on July 11, the agency submitted a motion to Tbilisi City Court to detain representatives of the developer company; founder Maia Rcheulishvili, Guram Rcheulishvili, Irakli Mindeli and Salome Charkviani.

The Prosecutorís Office says the motion is justified by the fact that Maia Rcheulisvili and her co-accused called upon the developers to provide false information to the investigation; moreover, Maia Rcheulishvili is charged with misspending money paid by the developers which was not used in the construction process.

According to the statement of the Prosecutorís Office, Maia Rcheulishvili, along with Salome Charkviani and Irakli Mindeli, misappropriated more than 19 million GEL and her son, chairman of the supervisory board of Center Point Guram Rcheulishvili, along with Irakli Mindeli, embezzled more than 1.6 million Gel.

According to the Prosecution, Center Point Adjara did not fulfill its obligations to the developers and did not finish the White Magnolia residential complex in Batumi, due to which many citizens suffered significant material losses.

A representative of the Prosecutorís Office stated that the City Court partly satisfied the motion, and on the basis of the court order Irakli Mindeli and Salome Charkviani were detained; due to the fact that Guram Rcheulishvilís whereabouts are unknown, he has not been detained yet. As for Maia Rcheulishvili, the Court did not satisfy the motion on her arrest, and a criminal prosecution case was launched against her without her detention.

The criminal persecution against the representatives of Center Point Group was launched under the second part of the article 182 of the Criminal Code, which implies imprisonment from seven to eleven years. In total, the case refers to embezzlement of more than 20 000 000 GEL.

The founder of the company, Maia Rcheulishvili, says the criminal persecution against her and her son is politically motivated.

ďBatumi Magnolia is my LTD and of course I received its income. People have lived there for a long time,Ē says Rcheulishvili, and claims she will prove her innocence.

Minister of Justice Tea Tsulukiani commented on the case of Center Point and the Rcheulishvilis. She does not see signs of political motives in the case.

"Any criminal case cannot be a sample of political persecution, as the accused say,Ē Tsulukiani noted.

Centre Point Group went bankrupt after the 2008 war. The company was taken over by DEXUS which promised to fulfil the obligations of the Centre Point Group. More than 6,200 individuals are alleged to have been affected. They have held demonstrations and rallies against the Company many times. However, the situation remained unchanged.