The Finance Ministry’s Revenue Service said on Thursday that it had completed a routine stocktaking process in three out of four firms of Palitra holding, Georgia’s one of the largest media groups.
Palitra holding, which operates dozens of firms, including many media outlets, started ringing alarm bells on Tuesday evening after several of its firms became targets of a simultaneous audit from the Revenue Service. The group said the move was “causing suspicion” about possible pressure from the authorities.
The Revenue Service said in a statement on June 9, that as it note earlier in separate statement stocktaking was “a short and easy process”, which was already completed in three firms. It said that stocktaking was now ongoing in only one firm of Palitra holding – Publishing Palitra L Ltd. Stocktaking is an initial phase, which usually is followed by the tax audit by the authorities.
“It will be finalized shortly and it will not hinder the work of the organization,” the Revenue Service said.
The audit process immediately triggered wave of concern from other media organizations and many opposition parties.
A large group of media representatives, civil society and human rights activists, as well as politicians from broad range of opposition parties gathered outside the Palitra holding headquarters in Tbilisi on June 8 to express solidarity and support towards the company.
Participants of the solidarity rally were saying the move by the Revenue Service to launch simultaneous audit in those firms, which are major income generating sources for the holding, was triggering serious suspicion that it was an attempt of pressure. They said that this suspicion was further fueled by the fact that the audit came less than two weeks after violent crackdown on street protest, which was extensively covered by the Palitra holding’s media outlets.