Signs of corruption in a residential complex construction project in Batumi - TI Georgia
Transparency International Georiga (TI Georgia) published a report on the signs of corruption in a residential complex construction project in Batumi.
Accoridng to the document, overlooking the Batumi port on the hill of the village of Salibauri, a company owned by Russian citizens is planning to build a residential area (Salibauri Hills) spanning 16,000 square meters. The project raises red flags which suggest that the Russian citizens used their Georgian partners to donate to the ruling party, shortly after which they received a necessary permit.
The company planning to build the residential complex is H Group Development. A 90% stake in the company is owned by citizens of Russia, Mareta Dolgieva and Magomed Chabiev. On November 25, 2022, two Georgian citizens connected with the company (Director Marina Dekhtiarevi and Chabiev’s business partner Joni Jincharadze) donated a total of GEL 40,000 to the ruling party (their first and only political donation). Two weeks later, on December 12, Khelvachauri Municipal Council unanimously approved the Detailed Development Plan (DDP) for the project.
The fact that the permit was issued shortly after the donation raises the suspicion that the purpose of the donation may have been to obtain said permit. And the fact that the donation was made by citizens of Georgia involved in the construction project raises the suspicion that this money may have come from Russian citizens who own the construction company.
The Georgian legislation prohibits foreign citizens from making political donations. The Russian owners of the company could not have made a direct donation to the ruling party, so it is likely that they donated through Georgian citizens for obtaining the necessary permit.
Magomed Chabiev has other problematic projects in Georgia as well: Chabiev’s business projects in Georgia are related to Enver Tsetskhladze, who is a nephew of Soso Gogitidze, the Minister of Security at the time of Aslan Abashidze’s rule. Chabiev and Tsetskhladze are jointly constructing a 40-storey residential complex 7th Heaven Residence in Batumi, whose Sales Director is Marina Dekhtiarevi mentioned above. According to the investigation by Netgazeti and Batumelebi, the land on which the project of 7th Heaven Residence is being implemented was returned to Enver Tsetskhladze in 2016 by suspicious methods, and the permits obtained during the construction process raised questions.