Nepotism in the Georgian State Electrosystem: the case of Vano Zardiashvili
Transparency International Georgia revealed cases of alleged nepotism and favoritism in the Georgian State Electrosystem (GSE), where former Georgian Dream MP Vano Zardiashvili holds the position of one of the directors and employs six people connected to the government and representatives of the court clan. After analyzing the cases of nepotism and favoritism, it is clear that Zardiashvili still maintains close ties with the influential judges of the court and the authorities. Unfortunately, nepotism remains a disturbing practice that undermines meritocracy, fairness, and public trust in public institutions.
After Georgian Dream came to power, Vano Zardiashvili was the Deputy Auditor General in 2013-2016, and in 2016-2019, he was an MP from the Georgian Dream party list. It should be noted that in 2013-2019, Zardiashvili's property increased significantly. During this period, he acquired a property worth approximately 1,000,000 GEL, while his and his wife's annual income was about 100,000 GEL.
- Alleged cases of nepotism in the GSE
Vano Zardiashvili is a member of the board of directors of JSC Georgian State Electrosystem and the Director of legal, environmental protection, social affairs, and permit issues. As can be seen from the information posted on the official website of the GSE, there are two departments under his authority, namely, the Legal Affairs and GNERC Relations Department and the Environmental, Social Affairs, and Permits Department. In these two departments, six people related to Zardiashvili, the government, and representatives of the court clan are employed.
- Tamta Tabukashvili – A sister-in-law of Vano Zardiashvili
Tamta Tabukashvili is employed in the Environmental, Social Affairs, and Permits Department of the GSE. She is the wife of Grigol Abralava, a brother of Vano Zardiashvili's wife, Tinatin Abralava.
- Giorgi Kiknadze – A friend and relative of Vano Zardiashvili's family
Giorgi Kiknadze is the deputy of Vano Zardiashvili. As is known, Vano Zardiashvili is the godfather of Giorgi Kiknadze's son.
- Giorgi Kvaraia - A friend and relative of Vano Zardiashvili's family
Giorgi Kvaraia is employed in the Environmental, Social Affairs, and Permits Department of the GSE.
- Salome Datuashvili-Gvritishvili – A wife of Dimitri Gvritishvili, an influential judge, Tbilisi Court of Appeal judge, and Chairman of the Chamber of Administrative Affairs
Salome Datuashvili is employed in the Environmental, Social Affairs, and Permits Department of the GSE. He is the coordinator of international projects.
- Nika Mikautadze – A cousin of Giorgi Mikautadze, an influential judge, Supreme Court judge, and Deputy Chairman of the Supreme Court of Georgia
Giorgi Mikautadze and Vano Zardiashvili are coursemates and close friends. Giorgi Mikautadze was one of the influential judges who met Zardiashvili in the square of the parliament's yard. As it became known for Transparency International Georgia, Nika Mikautadze is employed in the Environmental, Social Affairs, and Permits Department of the GSE. He is the head of the Social Issues Management Service.
- Gela Okhanashvili – A father of Anri Okhanashvili, MP, Chairman of the Legal Issues Committee
As it became known for Transparency International Georgia, he is employed in the Environmental, Social Affairs, and Permits Department of the GSE.
- What is Vano Zardiashvili's connection with the "clan" of judges and the government?
For years, Vano Zardiashvili was considered a contact person between the influential judges of the High Council of Justice and the government. He is a close friend of Mikheil Chinchaladze, the most influential judge. Mikheil Chinchaladze is Zardiashvili's best man.
- In 2016, Vano Zardiashvili became an MP from the Georgian Dream party list and took the position of the First Deputy Chairman of the Legal Issues Committee. After that, he actively lobbied for legislative initiatives that significantly increased the clan's power.
- In 2018, Zardiashvili actively lobbied to bring the 10-person list of candidates to the parliament nominated by the High Council of Justice, without proper procedures, for the posts of Supreme Court judges. Most of the candidates included in the list were leaders, members, or supporters of the influential group active in the court. Number first on the list was the system's most influential judge, the Tbilisi Court of Appeal Chairman, Mikheil Chinchaladze. Eka Beselia, the Chairperson of the Parliament's Legal Affairs Committee at that time, opposed this process. In the end, Beselia resigned, saying that she stopped reviewing the 10-person list by leaving her position. Beselia said that Irakli Kobakhidze, Vano Zardiashvili, and several other MPs asked her to review and approve the list the clan of judges submitted in an accelerated mode.
- In December 2018, Vano Zardiashvili resigned as Deputy Chairman of the Parliament's Legal Issues Committee.
- In September 2021, TV Pirveli aired a story, according to which there are supposedly secret recordings leaked from the State Security Council, where it can be seen that Georgian Dream MPs order court decisions favorable to them over the phone. As it is clear from the story, The Georgian Dram MPs influence the court's final decisions with the help of former MP Vano Zardiashvili. MP Mamuka Mdinaradze, who in turn is a relative of Vano Zardiashvili, probably also has a significant influence on this process.
- What does Vano Zardiashvili do after leaving the parliament?
- Vano Zardiashvili's parliamentary mandate was terminated on November 12, 2019, and soon after it, in 2 days, he was appointed as the First Deputy Director General of Energotrans LLC. Energotrans LLC has been a state enterprise since 2002. In the mentioned position, only during one and a half months (14.11.2019- 31.12.2019), his salary income amounted to 22,307 GEL, while his annual income during his tenure as an MP was 42,585 GEL.
- Since 2020, after Energotrans joined the GSE, he has been a member of the Board of Governors.
- In 2021, Vano Zardiashvili was appointed Director of JSC Georgian State Electrosystem in legal, environmental, social, and permit matters. It should be noted that the state wholly owns the GSE.
- Vano Zardiashvili's activities after the Georgian Dream came to power:
- In 2012-2013, he worked as the Deputy Head of the department of the High Council of Justice of Georgia.
- In 2013, he was appointed the First Deputy Auditor General and held this position until 2016. According to reports, he employed Mikheil Chinchaladze's wife and mother in the State Audit Office during the same period.
- In 2015, Tinatin Abralava, Vano Zardiashvili's wife, was appointed to the position of the head of the Department of Judiciary Evaluation Management of the High Council of Justice by order of Levan Murusidze, and she holds this position to this day.
- Vano Zardiashvili's activities during the previous government period:
- In 2004-2006, Zardiashvili worked with Zurab Adeishvili, first in the office of the Ministry of Justice of Georgia, then held the position of Adeishvili's assistant in the Ministry of State Security. Since June 2004, he has been the advisor of Zurab Adeishvili, the Prosecutor General of that time.
- Since 2010, Zardiashvili has moved to the judicial system. The same year, his wife, Tinatin Abralava, was appointed consultant in the High Council of Justice. Abralava has worked in various positions in the High Council of Justice since June 1, 2010.
- In 2010-2012, Zardiashvili headed the apparatus of the Tbilisi City Court. In 2012, during the pre-election period, court servants of the city court accused Vano Zardiashvili of political pressure. They said they were forbidden to go to the Georgian Dream rally. If they did, they were threatened and verbally abused and asked to attend the United National Movement rally.
- What property does Vano Zardiashvili own?
In 2013-2019, Vano Zardiashvili's property increased significantly. During this period, Zardiashvili acquired property worth approximately 1,000,000 GEL, while his and his wife's annual income was about 100,000 GEL.
In 2013, when Vano Zardiashvili was the First Deputy Auditor General, he owned two apartments in Tbilisi. Already in 2015, he disclosed six apartments in his asset declaration; It should be noted that Tinatin Abralava, Zardiashvili's wife, has owned a 5% share in Penthouse LLC since 2014, although Zardiashvili indicated this information only in the 2020 declaration. Penthouse owns several real estate properties in the "Olympic Star" residential complex on #43 Zhiuli Shartava Street in Tbilisi.
Since 2016, Vano Zardiashvili has been a Georgian Dream MP. In 2017, MP Zardiashvili and his wife owned eight apartments and one commercial space. In October 2021, according to media reports, Vano Zardiashvili, a few months before leaving the parliament in 2019, bought an apartment in the "Art House Plaza" skyscraper in Tbilisi, the market price of which is 1 million 175 thousand GEL.