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Ivanishvili Pays $48m Fine, Says it's for Disaster Relief
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 25 Jul.'12 / 13:50

Leader of opposition coalition Georgian Dream, Bidzina Ivanishvili, said he had contributed to relief efforts for disaster-hit Kakheti region and some other provinces by paying up to GEL 80 million (about USD 48 million) of “illegal” fine  that was imposed on him last month.

The National Bureau of Enforcement (NBE) at the Ministry of Justice has confirmed that Ivanishvili paid in full his fine in an amount of GEL 74,325,065, plus “enforcement fee” in an amount of GEL 5,202,754.

The National Bureau of Enforcement (NBE) at the Ministry of Justice confirmed on July 25, that Ivanishvili had paid in full his fine in an amount of GEL 74,325,065, plus “enforcement fee” in an amount of GEL 5,202,754.

Ivanishvili said that the government’s aid package, involving, among other components, financial compensation in an amount from GEL 300 to GEL 1,500, depending on level of damage of farmlands, “is ludicrous”.

“GEL 1,500 in most of the cases… cannot even cover 10% of inflicted damage,” Ivanishvili said.

He said that paying of “incomprehensible fine”, which he was not going to pay slamming it as “absurd” and “illegal”, was the only way he could contribute to relief efforts, as otherwise the law banned him, as a politician, to make donations to hailstorm victims.

“Now the budget has this additional money and they [the authorities] should fully compensate for inflicted damage. We will have a very strict monitoring of these funds,” Ivanishvili said.

“Even if these funds [up to GEL 80 million] are not enough, I will try to find additional legal ways to force the authorities to fully compensate for the lost crops. But if the authorities do not make it, we will come into [power] – some two and a half months are left before [the parliamentary elections] and I promise to the population that we will compensate fully for the inflicted damage,” he added.

Announcement about paying of up to GEL 80 million came as the Parliament was discussing on July 25 budgetary amendments; most of the changes in the 2012 state budget are related to allocation of funds for immediate and long-term disaster relief efforts. For the immediate efforts, such as repairing damaged houses, providing food items to disaster-hit households and distributing monetary compensations for damaged crops, the government plans to set up a GEL 50 million fund and for long-term regional development projects in Kakheti the government said it was planning to allocate about GEL 110 million.

The authorities have acknowledged that these funds were not enough to fully compensate for the inflicted damage, but one senior ruling party lawmaker, Petre Tsiskarishvili, said ruing the parliamentary hearings on July 25, that the state “is doing the maximum it can.”

Ivanishvili’s payment was also raised during the discussion of budgetary amendments in the Parliament on July 25, with one ruling party lawmaker, Vakhtang Balavadze, saying that this “as if aid is the same let’s say that you are fined for parking and then saying that you are paying this fine not because you violated rules, but because you wanted to help orphanage house.”

“[Ivanishvili’s] funds paid in the state budget, I assure you, will serve the people and the Georgian Parliament, together with the people, will decide how to spend these funds,” he said.

The court imposed on Ivanishvili multi-million fine after the State Audit Service, which is also in charge of monitoring political finances, accused Georgian Dream leader of violating party funding rules.

After Ivanishvili refused to pay the fine the state temporarily seized his banking assets in Georgia and appointed a temporary manager for Cartu Group, a holding incorporating Ivanishvili-affiliated firms including Cartu Bank.

The National Enforcement Bureau said on July 25, that following payment of the fine, it had requested the Tbilisi City Court to cease “forced management” of Ivanishvili’s seized assets and to return these assets back to its owner’s management.

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