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Ex-Justice Minister and Five Others Charged over 'Plot Against Cartu Bank'
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 20 Jan.'13 / 18:39

Former justice minister Zurab Adeishvili and five other former officials, including ex-head of revenue service Jaba Ebanoidze have been charged in connection to what the Interior Ministry says was a concerted attempt by various branches of previous authorities to force Cartu Bank to bankruptcy.

The case involves the Tbilisi-based bank, Cartu, which was founded fifteen years ago by Bidzina Ivanishvili, who is now Georgia’s Prime Minister.

Less than two months before the October 1 2012 parliamentary elections, Ivanishvili, at the time opposition leader, launched international arbitration at a World Bank tribunal against Georgian government saying that after his decision to go into opposition in October 2011, his investments, mainly in Cartu Bank, “became the target of a blatant political attack coordinated across all arms of the Georgian state”.

Ivanishvili argued that controversial legislative amendments passed in October-November, 2011, which gave the tax authorities priority over the secured claims of financial institutions, were designed specifically for targeting Cartu Bank, which eventually resulted into loss of bank’s assets worth USD 114.6 million, which it had acquired as security for its commercial loans. The controversial legislative amendments, which were publicly condemned by Georgia’s leading commercial banks only after the October elections, were not applied to any of other commercial banks operating in Georgia. The regulations were in force till late April, 2012.

After becoming Prime Minister, Ivanishvili withdrew complaints from the international arbitration, but investigation of the case was launched by the Interior Ministry.

Adeishvili, who left Georgia next day after the October parliamentary elections and who also faces multiple criminal charges in connection to separate case, is the highest ranking former official who has been charged into the Cartu Bank case.

Others are Jaba Ebanoidze, who was head of the Revenue Service at the Ministry of Finance; former head of audit department of the Revenue Service Mamuka Lashkhia; former head of the National Bureau of Enforcement Nikoloz Melia, who is now head of one of the districts in Tbilisi, and two others.

According to Adeishvili’s lawyer his client denies charges; former head of the National Bureau of Enforcement has also denied the allegations.

Jaba Ebanoidze, former head of the revenue service and two other former officials from the same agency, admitted partaking in actions directed against the Cartu Bank, their lawyers said.

Charges against the accused men range from abuse of power to fabrication of financial documents.

Late on Saturday night Tbilisi City Court awarded bail ranging from GEL 8,000 to GEL 30,000 to accused five former officials and ordered pretrial detention in absentia for ex-justice minister Zurab Adeishvili.

Preliminary court hearing into the case is scheduled for March 7, the Tbilisi City Court said on Sunday.

Adeishvili is already wanted by the Georgian law enforcement agencies in connection to separate criminal charges against him related to “organizing inhuman treatment of inmates” in September, 2012. In early January court ordered pretrial detention in absentia for Adeishvili in connection to this case.

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