Tbilisi City Court approved on June 27 a decision by the state audit agency to fine Bidzina Ivanishvili-led opposition coalition, Georgian Dream, with GEL 2.38 million.
The amount of financial penalty is twice as much than Georgian Dream coalition’s total monetary donations for the first six months of this year.
The case involves, what the state audit agency and the court said was, illegal non-monetary donation to six parties (Republican Party; Our Georgia-Free Democrats; Georgian Dream-Democratic Georgia; Conservative Party and Industrialists), plus Ivanishvili’s public movement, made by Ivanishvili-affiliated company, Management Service, in a form of renovation works of office spaces in an amount of GEL 476,619. The same financial penalty - GEL 2.38 million, which is five times the amount of alleged donation – was imposed on Management Service too in May.
According to a provision of the law under which the state audit agency referred the case to the court, in addition, six political parties and plus Ivanishvili’s public movement, will also have to transfer to the state budget GEL 476,619 – the sum, which the court and the state audit agency said was illegal non-monetary corporate donation.
“These parties possess no such financial resources to pay the fine and accounts of these parties will perhaps be seized, which will actually make these political parties activities impossible,” Ivanishvili’s one of the lawyers, Alexander Baramidze, said.
He said that the court did not examine circumstances into the case and relied fully on a decision of a separate court ruling, involving the fining of Management Service, in which some of the parties concerned in the recent case where not represented as a party into the court proceedings.
“This is a violation of one of the fundamental principles, because it is unacceptable to impose a financial penalty on someone for a case, which has not been examined during the court proceedings,” said lawyer Baramidze, who also said that the court ruling would be appealed.
Speaking about the state audit agency’s decision to fine the Georgian Dream, Irakli Alasania, leader of Our Georgia-Free Democrats, which is one of those parties within the coalition, said on June 25, that it was “an act of political repression.”
He said that if the case, involving fining of six political parties, results into seizure of their assets, that may potentially lead to “disqualifying these parties from the elections.”
“But I do not see such a scenario happening,” Alasania told Maestro TV on June 25. “There is enough international pressure directed towards securing holding of competitive elections… So I do not think that such decision [that would disqualify Georgian Dream from electoral process] will be taken.”