Family members of public officials in public service
Transparency International Georgia examined asset declarations submitted by public officials and identified instances when family members of public officials were employed by the same agency or related administrative bodies or subordinated institutions. The majority of these instances were identified in the local self-government bodies although similar cases have occurred in the central government and the judiciary.
We focused our attention on the instances when a family member of a public official was not in public service at the time of appointment. We found 350 such cases in various regions of Georgia. This blog describes over 40 cases that merit attention as they could be pointing at nepotism and conflict of interest.
In the process of examining public officials’ asset declarations, several notable trends were identified:
- Employment of public officials’ family members in public service after a member of their family is appointed to a high-ranking post is frequent in the local government. Family members of local government officials are often employed by municipal LEPLs and N(N)LPs.
- There are cases when family members of public officials work in the same agency, which is a violation of the Law on Conflict of Interest and Corruption in Public Institution with the exception of the cases in which appointments occurred as a result of a competition.
- In the judiciary, it is often the case when family members of judges are employed within the same system, sometimes, in the same district court.
- The trend of employing family members in public service after receiving the mandate of a Member of the Parliament (MP) can also be observed in the Parliament of Georgia. It is noteworthy that all MPs whose family members work in public service are members of the parliamentary majority.
The results of recent sociological studies have demonstrated that a significant part of the population has no trust in the public service hiring process. According to the study commissioned by Transparency International Georgia and conducted in February-March 2019 by the Caucasus Research Resource Centre (CRRC), 59 percent of respondents think that malfeasance in office is widespread among civil servants. Among those who think that malfeasance in office is widespread, 91 percent think that public officials use their position to secure jobs for their family members, relatives and friends. According to the April 2019 study commissioned by Open Society Georgia Foundation and published by CRRC Georgia, 68.8 percent of respondents think that a relative of one of the ministers would have a better chance being employed by a state institution than a candidate equipped with professional skills and knowledge. According to the December 2018 study conducted by NDI, 53 percent of respondents think that corruption is widespread within ministries. Among those who think that corruption within ministries is widespread, 63 percent consider nepotism to be the form of corruption; 51 percent of respondents say that corruption is widespread within local governments and 59 percent of them mean nepotism; 47 percent of respondents believe that corruption is widespread in the judiciary and 49 percent of them mean nepotism by it.
Transparency International Georgia has been talking about the challenges prevailing in civil service such as nepotism, favouritism and patronage for a long time now. The situation in the state LEPLs and N(N)LPs is particularly alarming as the principles of the Law on Civil Service and the Law on Conflict of Interest and Corruption in Public Institution does not apply to the N(N)LPs founded by the state/local government, including the obligation to select their heads and staff through competition. Also, contrary to the international best practice, the current Georgian legislation does not have clear and straightforward criteria for establishment of organisations (LEPLs and N(N)LPs) that are separate from the central and local executive authorities. It is telling that a large part of public officials’ family members employed in public service are working precisely in [such] LEPLs and N(N)LPs.
Naturally, the instances listed below do not necessarily imply that the employment in public service was obtained bypassing a competition or in violation of this rule as they do not aim to question professionalism and integrity of concrete persons. However, considering the shortcomings with regard to the enforcement of the existing anti-corruption legislation in Georgia, a large number of such cases points at the existence of a systemic problem and the need for effective response to it.
At the same time, the study is based only on the information indicated by public officials in their asset declarations for 2015-2018 and thus cannot reflect the full scale of the problem (according to the law, only a spouse, an underage child and step-child as well as persons permanently living with them are considered “family members”).
Cases of employment of public officials’ family members in public service which involve high risk of nepotism:
Kakhi Kandelaki – first deputy minister of culture and monument protection in 2013-2017
His spouse, Elena Iavorskaia, has been the director of marketing of Tbilisi State Concert Hall, LLC since 2016.
Giorgi Khanishvili – deputy minister of environmental protection and agriculture of Georgia since 2018; deputy minister of agriculture of Georgia in 2016-2017
His daughter, Tamar Khanishvili, has been the chief specialist at the Marketing and Public Relations Department of the National Wine Agency since 2017.
Nikoloz Dididze – deputy head of LEPL Agency for Special Government Communications since 2013
His spouse, Sopio Korchashvili, has been the chief specialist of LEPL Agency for Special Government Communications since 2017.
Giorgi Akhvlediani – deputy chairman of Tbilisi City Council since 2014
His spouse, Ketevan Akhvlediani, has been the head of Tbilisi Transport Company Service, LLC since 2016.
Koba Kobaladze – Member of the Parliament of Georgia since 2016, deputy chairman of the Defence and Security Committee
His son, Zurab Kobaladze, has been the chief operative officer of the State Security Service of Georgia since 2018.
Anzor Bolkvadze – Member of the Parliament of Georgia since 2008, elected from the single-seat district of Shuakhevi, Khulo and Keda
His spouse, Tina Bolkvadze, has been the lead specialist at N(N)LP Khulo Art Gallery since 2018.
Goga Gulordava – Member of the Parliament of Georgia since 2016, elected from the single-seat districts of Tsalenjikha and Chkhorotsku
His spouse, Natia Molashkhia, has been the coordinator of protection of sanitary and hygienic norms at N(N)LP Tsalenjikha Municipality Pre-School Education Centre since 2017.
Ketevan Jachvadze – judge at Tbilisi City Court since 2008
Her daughter, Salome Memarnishvili, has been a session secretary at the Tbilisi City Court since 2017.
Lela Kalichenko – judge at Tbilisi City Court since 2016
Her daughter, Mariam Badzgaradze, has worked as a chief consultant/aide to the judge at Tbilisi City Court since 2016.
Giorgi Ebanoidze – judge at Tbilisi City Court since 2012
His wife, Mariam Kerneri, has worked as a consultant at Tbilisi City Court since 2017.
Cases of employment of public officials’ family members in public institutions related to the same agency:
Zviad Davitidze – chairman of the Georgian Dream – Republicans faction, then the Unity faction at Gori Municipality Council in 2014-2017
His spouse, Maia Davitidze, has been an events specialist at the Gori Municipality Student and Youth Centre for Culture and Education since 2016.
Anzor Svanidze – first deputy head of Borjomi Municipality Administration in 2014-2017
His father, Teimuraz Svanidze, has been the head of the operational response group of N(N)LP Borjomi Soplis Tskali since 2017.
Beka Kancheli – deputy chairman of Kutaisi [City] Council in 2014-2017
His spouse, Elmira Adeishvili, has been the chief specialist at N(N)LP Kuatisi Municipality Centre for Disease Records and Control, Public Health and Preventive Medicine since 2016.
Ineza Bandzeladze – head of administrative department of the Ambrolauri Municipality Administration / Mayor’s Office since 2014
Her son, Levan Gagoshidze, has served as deputy director of N(N)LP Ambrolauri Municipality Sports School since 2017.
Nukri Andriadze – chairman of the Georgian Dream faction at Bolnisi Municipality Council in 2014-2017
His spouse, Tamar Sarauli, has been a coordinator for parents and children at N(N)LP Bolnisi House of Culture since 2016.
Varlam Khvingia – chairman of the Georgian Dream – Conservatives faction at Borjomi Municipality Council since 2014
His spouse, Tamar Tagvadze, has been the head of the administrative department at N(N)LP Borjomi Centre for Culture and Arts since 2018.
Vladimer Gelashvili – head of the finance and budget department of Kharagauli Municipality Administration since 2014
His spouse, Lia Lomsadze, has been the manager of N(N)LP S. Buachidze Kharagauli Music School since 2016.
Sergo Ugrekhelidze – head of Monitoring and Architecture Service at Tkibuli Municipality Administration in 2014-2017
His spouse, Zeinab Ugrekhelidze, has been the administrator of N(N)LP Shota Rustaveli Student Youth Palace since 2017.
Shukura Japaridze – chairwoman of Oni Municipality Council since 2014
Her spouse, Merab Japaridze, has been working as a manager of club relations at N(N)LP Oni Sports School since 2017.
Giorgi Ivaniadze – deputy chairman of Vani Municipality Council since 2014
His spouse, Indira Gogodze, has been a specialist at Vani Municipality’s N(N)LP Centre for the Development of Arts, Education and Tourism since 2016.
Aleksandre Ozbetelashvili – head of the Directorate for Support and Operational Training at the J-3 Operational Planning Department at the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Georgia under the Ministry of Defence of Georgia since 2016
His spouse, Nino Verulashvili, has been working as the chief specialist at the Professional Development Directorate of the Professional and Institutional Development Department at the Defence Institution Building School since 2017.
Sopiko Belkania – head of the Department of Analytics, Human Resource Management and International Relations at the Ministry of Health, Labour and Social Affairs of Georgia since 2016
Her mother, Marine Darsavelidze, has been a department head at Giorgi Eliava Institute of Bacteriophages, Microbiology and Virology since 2017.
Anton Vardia – head of the Economic Development and Property Management Service at Khobi Municipality Administration since 2014
His spouse, Irine Chakaberia, has worked as a specialist at Khobi Dasuptaveba, LLC since 2016.
Tamaz Modzghvrishvili – commission chairman at Mtskheta Municipality Council in 2014-2017
His brother, Malkhaz Modzghvrishvili, has been a chief specialist at Mtskheta Municipality Administration’s Soptskali, LLC since 2016.
Tamaz Chubinidze – commission chairman at Bolnisi Municipality Council since 2014
His spouse, Eliso Klibadze, has been an accountant at Bolnisi Municipal Transport, LLC since 2014.
Malkhaz Surmanidze – head of Keda Komunalurservisi, LLC since 2013
His daughter, Manoni Surmanidze, has been the lead specialist in procurement issues at Keda Komunalurservisi, LLC since 2018.
Gocha Meshveliani – chairman of the Green Movement faction at Bolnisi Municipality Council since 2017
His son, Giorgi Meshveliani, has been deputy director of Bolnisi District Municipality’s Komunaluri Meurneoba, LLC since 2018.
Members of the Parliament of Georgia
Shota Khabareli – Member of the Parliament of Georgia since 2012
His daughter, Ani Khabareli, has worked as a specialist at the Tbilisi Water Supply Company since 2017.
Koba Lursmanashvili – Member of the Parliament of Georgia since 2016
His daughter, Ani Lursmanashvili, has been chief specialist at the Department of Public Registry of the LEPL Public Service Development Agency since 2018.
Zviad Dzidziguri – Member of the Parliament of Georgia since 2012
His sister, Marine Dzidziguri, has worked as a specialist at LEPL National Statistics Office of Georgia since 2017.
Irakli Beraia – Member of the Parliament of Georgia since 2016
His spouse, Khatuna Bobokhidze, has worked as a consultant at State Food Provision, LLC since 2017.
Davit Songhulashvili – Member of the Parliament of Georgia since 2016
His spouse, Ketevan Maghularia, has been the chief specialist of the finance department at LEPL Georgian State Electrosystem since 2017.
Shalva Kiknavelidze – Member of the Parliament of Georgia since 2012
His spouse, Tatia Sakhelashvili, has worked as a specialist at Tbilisi City Court since 2017.
Ekaterine Gasitashvili – judge at the Supreme Court of Georgia since 2014
Her spouse, Giorgi Vashakmadze, has been advisor to the Administration of the Government of Georgia on the issues of East-West energy corridor since 2017.
Mikheil Chinchaladze – chairman of Tbilisi Court of Appeals since 2017, judge of the Supreme Court of Georgia since 2010
His father, Tamaz Chinchaladze, has been an expert-consultant at LEPL Social Service Agency since 2016; his spouse, Marika Marikashvili, has been chief analyst at the State Audit Office of Georgia since 2016; his mother, Rusudan Samkharadze, has been Public Relations coordinator at LEPL Public Audit Institute since 2015.
Zaza Tavadze – chairman of the Constitutional Court of Georgia since 2016, one of the 20 candidates for the Supreme Court judgeship
His spouse, Tea Dzotsenidze, has been a specialist at the General Education Department of the Ministry of Education and Science of Georgia since 2017.
Ekaterine Tsiskaridze – judge at Tbilisi Court of Appeals since 2006
Her spouse, Nikoloz Bendeliani, has been a non-staff employee at the Statistics, Research and Analysis Directorate of the Analytical Department at the Ministry of Corrections and Probation of Georgia since 2017.
Teimuraz Svanidze – judge at Kutaisi Court of Appeals since 2015, judge at Ambrolauri District Court since 2012
His son, Giorgi Svanidze, has been a session secretary at the Tbilisi City Court since 2016.
Irakli Shengelia – judge at Tbilisi Court of Appeals since 2007
His spouse, Lana Tevzadze, has worked as a chief specialist at LEPL Department of Common Courts since 2017