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Authorities Say Ivanishvili's Satellite Van Damage Allegation 'Unacceptable'
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 15 Feb.'12 / 23:44

The Georgian Revenue Service has denied as "incomprehensible and unacceptable" allegations by billionaire opposition politician Bidzina Ivanishvili that a satellite van, intended for his planned TV channel, was "damaged on purpose" while undergoing customs clearance in Batumi.

Ivanishvili's press office said in a statement on February 14, that the van worth EUR 450,000, equipped with mobile production control room and systems for remote live news reports, which was shipped in the Batumi port on February 9, was "detained" for about five hours and authorized representatives of the cargo barred from attending the customs inspection procedures.

The Revenue Service, the agency under the Ministry of Finance, which unites tax and customs services, said in a written statement on Wednesday, that Mercedes van, belonging to Igrika - a company, owned by Ivanishvili's wife, which plans to launch the new TV channel - was shipped on February 9 and underwent standard customs procedures.

It said that representatives of Igrika did not ask for attending the inspection procedures. 

The Revenue Service said, that customs officers carried out "surface inspection" of the van.

"The van was opened only to inspect its rear area," the agency said, adding that it was a standard procedure applied to any other vehicle "in order to prevent import of undeclared cargo".

It said that the van was taken by its owner from terminal about five hours later on the same day, February 9, and Igrika's representatives did not file any complaint about alleged damage of the cargo. 

The Revenue Service said it had learnt about damage of the equipment only five days later, on February 14, when Ivanishvili's representatives publicly voiced thier allegations.

"None of Igrika's representative has appealed the Revenue Service with a complaint about damage of the cargo in a period between February 9 and February 14," the agency said.

"The Revenue Service acts in line with rules set by the law and allegations about possible damage of cargo in the Batumi port are incomprehensible and unacceptable for us," it said in the statement.

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