The officials have been accused of embezzling money for eco-migrants and the poor" />

Seven officials arrested on corruption charges in Batumi

The officials have been accused of embezzling money for eco-migrants and the poor

Batumi, Georgia, May 2, 2016. REUTERS/David Mdzinarishvili 

Georgian prosecutors have detained seven former and current high-ranking officials in Batumi.

Among them are Acting Minister of Education of the Autonomous Republic Adjara Bagrat Manvelidze, former Mayor of Batumi Giorgi Yermakov and Deputy Mayor of the city Tengiz Petridze.

Deputy Minister of Economy and Finance of Autonomy Archil Vanadze, the head of property management and service and the head of procurement and infrastructure of Batumi City Hall were also detained.

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The detainees were charged with large scale embezzlement of public funds and abuse of office.

The case concerns a tender for the construction of a set of homes for eco-migrants announced in 2015 called ‘Social Home.’

The project was a long-held promise of the authorities of the region.

The project called for homes to be transferred to environmental migrants who have left their home villages due to natural disasters, as well as to poor families.

Company Convent Georgia won the tender, and received 1.4 million GEL (about $500,000) as advance.

However, only 250,000 GEL was spent and then the company “disappeared.”

As the prosecutor’s office notes, the state was unable to have the money returned, since the financial guarantees presented by the company turned out to be issued by a “fictitious” organization.

As a result, the project was not built, and the state suffered a loss of 1.37 million GEL (about $488,000]

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