The Georgian authorities have impounded shares of leader of Georgian Dream opposition coalition Bidzina Ivanishvili in two Tbilisi-based banks following his refusal to pay a multi-million fine imposed on billionaire politician earlier this month.
National Bureau of Enforcement at the Ministry of Justice said on June 26, that Ivanishvili’s 100% shares in Cartu Bank, 21.7% shares in Progress Bank and 100% shares in JSC Cartu Group had been impounded.
The state agency in charge of enforcement moved into the case of GEL 74.32 million (about USD 45.4 million) financial penalty imposed on Ivanishvili for alleged violation of party funding rules last week.
Ivanishvili said for number of times that he would not pay the fine, because the court proceedings into the case were unfair and part of the authorities’ campaign of targeting political opponent.
According to procedures, in case of non-payment of a financial penalty, an enforcement officer launches evaluation of assets of a person facing penalty – the procedure which was started by the National Bureau of Enforcement a week ago.
The property will then be seized and auctioned; the auction has to be conducted within a month.
Ivanishvili said last week that he no longer owned shares into any of the company in Georgia. He said that he had recently “handed over” his shares into Cartu Bank to his eldest son Uta.
National Bureau of Enforcement, however, said in its statement on June 26, that the Georgian central bank had not been notified about any changes in ownership of Cartu Bank’s shares and for that reason “Bidzina Ivanishvili still remains a beneficial owner of 100% of JSC Cartu Bank.” According to the National Bureau of enforcement Ivanishvili is a beneficial owner of Cartu Bank through Cartu Group.
“Bidzina Ivanishvili does not own a single share either in Cartu Bank or Cartu Group; what has the National Bureau of Enforcement impounded? Something that Bidzina Ivanishvili does not own at all?” said Ivanishvili’s one of the lawyers Alexander Baramidze.
Few hours before National Bureau of Enforcement announced about its decision, Bidzina Ivanishvili said: “The authorities can seize whatever they want, because they are already acting beyond any legal framework.”
Progress Bank, in which Ivanishvili’s 21.7% shares were impounded, was founded by Kakha Kaladze, a retired footballer, who was a captain of the Georgian national team and is now a member of Ivanishvili’s party Georgian Dream-Democratic Georgia.
National Bureau of Enforcement also said that seizure of Ivanishvili’s shares would not hinder operations of the two banks.