Tbilisi City Court approved on June 11 a decision of the State Audit Service imposing GEL 126.22 million (about USD 77.24 million) on leader of Georgian Dream opposition coalition Bidzina Ivanishvili.
Ivanishvili may face additional of GEL 22.42 million as a separate hearing into another case of alleged violation of party funding rules by Ivanishvili is currently underway in the court.
GEL 126.22 million fine was imposed in connection to the case in which the state audit agency claimed, that distribution of satellite dish antennas free of charge by Global Contact Consulting (Global TV) with use of Ivanishvili’s funding constituted violation of party funding rules.
The agency said that the move actually amounted to giving gifts to voters with total worth of GEL 12,622,019 and was requesting the court to fine Ivanishvili with five times of this amount. This sum, however, was further doubled to GEL 126.22 million because this violation of the law, according to the court’s decision, was committed for multiple times by Ivanishvili.
Ivanishvili’s lawyers said they would appeal the court’s ruling.
“This is totally illegal decision,” Manana Kobakhidze, an chairperson of Ivanishvili’s party said after the ruling of the court into the first case. “Of course we will appeal this ruling, but we have no illusion that the court in Georgia will take an objective decision.”
Another case, which is currently heard by the court, involves the state audit agency’s allegations, that Ivanishvili through his two companies Burji and Elita Burji provided transportation services with 239 vehicles, including minibuses, under “preferential” terms to his Georgian Dream opposition coalition. The state audit agency estimated this service was worth GEL 2,242,994, which it said actually amounted to illegal donation to the Georgian Dream by Ivanishvili.
Here too the state audit agency is requesting the court to fine Ivanishvili with five times of this amount and to then double it because of repeated violation of party funding regulations by Ivanishvili; if approved Ivanishvili will be fined with additional GEL 22.42 million making his total fine imposed on a single day to GEL 148.65 million.
In an interview with Tbilisi-based Maestro TV last week, Ivanishvili said that one of the aims of targeting him by the state audit agency was “to stop distribution of [satellite dish] antennas in the regions.”
“These antennas will make it possible for television stations, reporting objectively, to bring information into the provinces and that would downscale [affect] of lies by Saakashvili’s television stations and that will be disastrous for [the authorities],” Ivanishvili said.