Tbilisi City Court found an Israeli businessman Ron Fuchs guilty of offering bribe to Georgian Deputy Finance Minister and sentenced him to seven years in jail.
His associate Zeev Frenkiel was also found guilty in the same case and sentenced to six years and six months in jail.
The court also ruled that Fuchs should be fined with GEL 500,000 (about USD 293,200) and Frenkiel with GEL 100,000 (about USD 58,600).
The two men have denied charges. In his final statements to the court earlier this week Ron Fuchs said that he was a victim of the Georgian government’s “plot” aimed at forcing him to reject his multi-million claim against Georgia, which he had won in the international arbitration.
The defense lawyers said they would most likely appeal the verdict to the higher court after receiving from the judge a comprehensive justification of his verdict within next two weeks.
Archil Kbilashvili, who is in charge of day-to-day legal proceedings in the defense team acting on behalf of the two businessmen, declined to comment on possibility of plea bargaining.
Plea bargaining solution seems to have already been discussed previously. Any potential plea bargain deal will most likely involve the two men’s plea of guilt and a settlement on financial penalty.
Gregory Craig, a former White House counsel with Obama administration, providing counsel to Ron Fuchs' legal team, who was in Tbilisi in January meeting with the Georgian officials said that convicting Fuchs to a jail term with the government still having to pay the sum lost in the international arbitration would be a “lose-lose situation”; he told Civil.ge in January that win-win solution should be found somewhere in between. He, however, also said at the time, that he was not hopeful of such outcome.
After reading out the verdict, the judge told convicts that they had right to petition for pardon to the Georgian President.