The state audit agency, Chamber of Control, has claimed that an opposition coalition, led by Bidzina Ivanishvili, was renting office spaces in the regions in violation of party funding regulations, suggesting that in this process the group was using corporate funding, which is banned by the law.
The agency, which is in charge of monitoring political finances, said in a statement on March 14, that it was auditing whether financial declaration submitted by Ivanishvili’s public movement, Georgian Dream, matched with its actual spending and series of summoning of opposition activists in the regions was related to this ongoing probe.
The Chamber of Control has come under fire for summoning in last three days dozens of opposition activists from Ivanishvili-led coalition for questioning. Ivanishvili’s allies said it was part of the authority’s attempts to mount “psychological pressure” on its supporters. Irakli Alasania, leader of Our Georgia-Free Democrats, part of Ivanishvili-led coalition, said on March 14, the Chamber of Control “has actually turned into political police.”
In an attempt to deny allegations, the state audit agency said that citizens were free to engage in political campaigning and that the ongoing “monitoring does not and cannot aim at studying of political activity of individuals.”
“Our goal is to secure transparency of political finances and [political organizations'] accountability before the public,” the Chamber of Control said.
It said that during ongoing probe it had found that the Georgian Dream’s actual expenses did not correspond to those indicated in the organization’s financial declaration and in particular that applies to the movement’s new offices in the regions.
Since its formation last month, Georgian Dream opposition coalition, has opened over dozen of its offices in the provinces as part of the campaign in lead up to parliamentary elections in October. The latest one was opened in Kvareli, a town in eastern region of Kakheti, on March 14.
The state audit agency said that “on this stage it has been confirmed” that office spaces were rented not by political parties in the coalition or natural persons, as law requires, but by Ivanishvili-affiliated companies “despite of the fact that law bans funding of political organizations by a private firm.” The state audit agency also said that similar violations were also found in respect of funding renovation costs of offices and salaries for the activists. The agency said the examination was still ongoing and other details would become available later.