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Ruling Party Says to Relinquish GEL 315,000 'Illegal Donation'
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 28 Aug.'12 / 15:19

The State Audit Office (SAO) said on August 27 that GEL 315,000 donation, received by the ruling United National Movement (UNM) party, was illegal, which the party has to return back to its donors, otherwise this sum will be seized and transfer to the state budget.

On August 28 the ruling party said it would relinquish the donation in question.

GEL 315,000 is up to 1.9% of UNM’s total of GEL 16.65 million it received in financial donations from about 700 individuals in a period between January and August 8, 2012.

SAO said that as part of its routine monitoring of political finances it had found that illegal donations have been made by six individuals, who potentially may face a fine with total of GEL 1.57 million.

The case of one of these donors is treated separately and has been referred to the chief prosecutor’s office for further investigation as the state audit agency “found signs” that the donor was involved in sham deal while contributing money to the ruling party.
 
The case of five other donors was referred to the court with SAO requesting imposing financial penalties five times the amount of illegal donation.

“Official evidence obtained by the SAO confirmed that five contributors who made donations to the UNM did not have savings that would have allowed them to make the donations from their own funds,” the state audit agency said in a statement on August 27, adding that a lien has also been imposed on the assets of these five donors.
 
Allegations of possible illegal donations to the ruling party first emerged when Channel 9, a television station owned by Bidzina Ivanishvili’s wife, aired an investigative report on August 19, claiming that 27 individuals who have donated total of GEL 651,440 to the UNM are registered in the socially vulnerable persons’ database.

In a separate case, SAO has also requested the court to fine pro-UNM non-governmental organization, Georgia Not For Sale, with GEL 5,000.

Georgia Not For Sale, which was launched in early July and which falls under the monitoring of SAO, is producing negative political ads against Bidzina Ivanishvili and buys airtime on television stations to air these ads. But after the Channel 9 and Maestro TV refused to air these ads, Georgia Not For Sale gave these ads to the ruling party, which started placing these ads on the TV channels as part of free airtime to which the ruling party is eligible under the election code. TV channels have no right to reject an ad provided by a political party for placement in free airtime to which this party is entitled by the law. SAO said it had requested the court to fine Georgia Not For Sale for a failure to indicating in its declaration this non-monetary donation to the ruling party.

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