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Georgian Officials, Insurance Agents Charged With Fraud

TBILISI -- The Georgian Finance Ministry says a group of government officials and insurance company employees have been arrested and charged with fraud, RFE/RL's Echo of the Caucasus reports.

Mamuka Giligashvili, the deputy chief of the Finance Ministry's investigative department, said that seven employees of the Labor and Social Protection Ministry had been charged with negligence and nine employees from several insurance companies had been charged with fraud.

Giligashvili said the arrested individuals had misappropriated government insurance payments to Georgian families with lower incomes.

Deputy Prosecutor-General David Sakvarelidze told journalists the investigations were launched after dozens of people had complained to the Prosecutor-General's Office that hospitals had refused to provide them with free medical service despite the fact they held special cards from the insurance companies.

The hospitals and clinics explained their refusals by the absence of the patients' names in their computer database.

The investigations revealed that although the insurance companies received government money to provide the insurance and had distributed the cards, the patients' names were not being added to the system.

The investigators said the insurance companies had stolen some $75 million from the government.

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