Suspicious corrupt transactions of the company connected to the Beridze brothers, high-rank public officials in Adjara
Esia Group LLC has been participating in state tenders since July 2021, receiving 1,869,747 GEL. This company was founded by Irakli Aznaurishvili, a former business partner of Akaki Beridze, director of the Butumi municipal N(N)LE City Infrastructure and Amenities Department. Esia Group is a subcontractor of the winning companies in the Keda Town Hall and Adjara Road Department tenders and receives significant income. The mayor of Keda, Roland Beridze, and the first deputy head of the Adjara Road Department, Raul Beridze, are brothers of Akaki Beridze.
According to the State Procurement Agency data, Esia Group signs subcontracts to winning companies for the execution of works of almost the same volume as the tenders of Keda municipality require. Accordingly, the subcontractor company receives nearly 100% of the amount given in the tenders, which raises questions about corruption.
From RB - New Road LLC to Esia Group LLC
Akaki Beridze heads the City Infrastructure and Amenities Department, Batumi's highest-budget municipal legal entity. Before that, he was a 33% owner and director of RB - New Road LLC. Along with him, the company's shareholders were Irakli Aznaurishvili (34%) and Valeri Adonia (33%). In 2017, Akaki Beridze resigned, sold his share for 100 GEL, and since then has worked as an engineer in Anagi company and Adjara Solid Waste Management Company, an LLC owned by the Adjara government. In 2021, he was appointed deputy director of the Batumi City Infrastructure and Development Department, and in December, he was appointed director.
Beridze's former business partner, Irakli Aznaurishvili, founded Esia Group in June 2018. Esia Group LLC and RB - New Road LLC are registered at the same address, Tbel Abuseridze Street #21 B.4 in Batumi.
Esia Group started participating in state procurement in the summer of 2021. At that time, Roland Beridze, brother of Akaki Beridze, was the deputy mayor of Keda. The company received its first subcontract in July of the same year. At that time, the company performed 95% of the work volume undertaken by Gal-Msheni, the winning company of the tender. Other winning companies in the tenders of the Keda municipality signed subcontracts with Esia Group for an amount slightly less than the main tender value. This raises the risk of corruption.
One circumstance is worth noting: Keda Town Hall wrote that Iberia-J, the winner of another municipal tender (NAT210012760), did not hire Esia Group as a subcontractor. The contrary is proven by the list of experiences uploaded by Esia Group on the state procurement agency's website and the subcontracting agreement signed with the same company.
It can be assumed that Keda Municipality did not intentionally provide information on the subcontracting of the former business partner of the mayor's brother, which deepens suspicions of corrupt deals.
Esia Group could accumulate appropriate experience mainly through subcontracting activities, as well as individual private orders (Ambassador Goderdzi gave more than 625,000 GEL to Esia Group for the construction of a concrete wall and rehabilitation of the road) and participated in the tender announced by Keda Municipality. Esia Group won this tender without competition and discount and signed a contract with Keda Town Hall for 157,730 GEL.
Other examples of Esia Group subcontracting
Like Keda Town Hall, Adjara Project Management Company, belonging to the Adjara government, did not inform us whether the winning company in the Shuakhevi football stadium construction tender had a subcontractor. Global Standardmsheni won this tender without competition.
Esia Group confirmed on its Facebook page that it was a subcontractor in this tender.
At the same time, Adjara Project Management Company informed us that Esia Group received a 1,206,955 GEL subcontract for constructing a rugby field with artificial grass in Chakvi township. Global Standardmsheni LLC also won this tender. According to the information of Adjara Project Management Company, the company related to the Beridze brothers performed 27.8% of the volume of work. Global Standardmsheni won this tender without competition.
None of the contracts obliges Global Standardmsheni to notify Adjara Project Management Company about hiring a subcontractor, which is a bad practice. It is unclear what the company belonging to the government of Adjara was guided by when it did not request the builder of Shuakhevi Stadium to notify about the contract signed with a subcontractor. The disclosure of this information will increase the income received from subcontracting activities of Esia Group by several hundreds of thousands of GEL.
Conclusion and recommendations
Transparency International Georgia studied the documentation of state procurement related to Esia Group. Despite the repeated calls of our organization and the publication of prepared analytical documents, the attitude of procurer organizations towards subcontractors is still problematic - subcontractors are important risk factors for corruption and opaque spending of funds. The studied circumstances indicate corruption risks in municipal and other state procurements with the mentioned company.
We call on the Anti-Corruption Agency of the State Security Service, based on the information found, to start an investigation to reveal alleged corruption in the described state procurements.
 Non-entrepreneurial (Non-commercial) Legal Entity