Bidzina Ivanishvili, leader of opposition Georgian Dream coalition, said on July 20 that he had decided to contribute to relief efforts following hailstorm in Kakheti and some other regions by paying GEL 10 million from “illegal” multi-million fine that was imposed on him last month.
Ivanishvili said in a written statement that he would pay even more of his GEL 74.32 million fine after an exact amount of damage was assessed.
“Because of well-known circumstances, I have no possibility to help thousands of disaster victims – even if I deliver medicines, the authorities will qualify it as vote-buying. The authorities have absolutely illegally imposed on me payment of tens of millions of Lari in favor of the state budget and are now illegally trying to extract these funds at the expense of other’s property,” Ivanishvili said.
He also said that his planned payments would allow the government “to fully reimburse inflicted damage be it lost crops, killed livestock or damaged farmstead.”
Ivanishvili said that the government’s pledge to provide to affected households from GEL 300 to GEL 1,500, depending on level of damage of farmlands, would not be enough to fully compensate for inflicted damage.
He also said in the statement that public monitoring on the process of assessing damage, as well as on distribution of aid was required in order to make government assistance to affected families “timely, fair and efficient”.
Ivanishvili was fined with GEL 74.32 million after the court upheld a decision by the state audit agency accusing the billionaire opposition politician of violating party funding rules.
Ivanishvili denounced the ruling as “absurd” and “illegal” and refused to pay the fine. In response the authorities seized Ivanishvili-affiliated Cartu Group, a holding also incorporating Tbilisi-based Cartu Bank, which is now run by a state appointed temporary manager, who will be in charge of the entity unless the state extracts unpaid multi-million fine.