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Georgian Dream opposition stays firm amid government interference

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Thursday, June 28
The situation concerning the Georgian Dream opposition coalition is becoming more and more complicated. Based on the recent decisions made by the National Bureau of Enforcement and the Tbilisi City Court, the coalition is facing many serious financial problems.

As the National Bureau of Enforcement states, they have conducted an inquiry in order to identify the property owned by Bidzina Ivanishvili. The Bureau officially applied to the National Bank of Georgia to determine the beneficiary owners of J.S.C. Cartu Bank and J.S.C. Progress Bank and learned that 100 percent of the shares of J.S.C. Cartu Bank are owned by the JSC Cartu Group. In addition, 100 percent of the shares of the latter company are also owned by Bidzina Ivanishvili, together with 21.7% of shares of J.S.C. Progress Bank.

"Thus, Ivanishvili is the beneficiary owner of 100% of the shares of JSC Cartu Bank and 21.7% of the shares of JSC Progress Ban," the bureau claims, adding that according to the information provided by the National Bank of Georgia, the Law of Georgia on Activities of Commercial Banks states, that in order to acquire the share of a commercial bank, a person is obliged to inform the National Bank of Georgia in the manner prescribed by law. Violation of this rule causes the contract on transfer of shares to be annulled.

"In order to secure the enforcement proceedings of the writ issued by the Tbilisi Appeals Court, the National Bureau of Enforcement conducted seizure of 100% of shares of J.S.C. Cartu Group, 100% of shares of JSC Cartu Bank and 21.7% of shares of JSC Progress Bank," the bureau of Enforcement mentioned, and outlined that the seizure of the shares does not prevent the normal functioning of the above-mentioned banks.

On the other hand , based on the verdict made by Tbilisi's Civil Court, five subjects of the coalition Georgian Dream were fined 2 ,383, 097 GEL. The case is concerned with free service carried out by Management Service Ltd for the benefit of political subjects. This is prohibited by the law as the Monitoring Service of Chamber of Control stated.

According to Georgian Dream coalition lawyer, Shalva Tadumadze , the decision made by the Enforcement Bureau was illegal and included the signs of crime. The lawyer claims that the Law on Activities of Commercial Banks must not be applied to Ivanishvili, as Ivanishvili was the beneficiary owner (a person who is not the nominal owner of the derivatives or the representative of an officially registered owner) and not the share buyer of Cartu Bank. “The above-mentioned law applies only to the share-buyer and not to the beneficiary owner. The National Bank should have known it, but it was a politically motivated action," Tadumadze said. He also outlined that Ivanishvili had never been the shareholder of the bank. As for the beneficiary owner, Ivanishvili had such status until December 31 of 2011. Currently his son, Uta Ivanishvili has this status.

The fact that Bidzina Ivanishvili has no shares in Cartu Bank was confirmed by the bank President, Nodar Javakhishvili, who also admitted that Cartu Bank’s value (which was sequestered) is three-times more than the fine imposed on Ivanishvili (75 million GEL).

"It would have been better for the Enforcement Bureau to calculate the value and then sequester. The sequestration document does not even include information for whose benefit and against whom the process was carried out," Javakhishvili said and mentioned that the bank administration is going to appeal the decision.

As for the fine levied against the political subjects, representative of the Republican Party, Tina Khidasheli, stated that through the decision the government "prohibited the opposition parties from carrying out their pre-election campaign." She has also mentioned that they will not pay the fine, as it was illegal and at the same time the parties do not have the financial resources for this. "However, we are not going to stop, the government cannot think on something for which we will not have an adequate response in the frame of law," Khidasheli said.

Analyst Demor Giorkhelidze told The Messenger the authorities would do its best to disturb the opposition. "The Georgian government knows they would lose if fair elections were conduced and the authorities are capable of committing all kinds of illegalities to preserve power," Giorkhelidze said.

According to the Head of the Elections and Political Technologies Research Centre, Kakha Kakhishvili, the bank accounts of the political parties would be sequestered, but the government would avoid leaving them without offices– "as such action would impose too negative assessment towards the ruling administration from the foreign community side,” Kakhishvili told The Messenger.