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Filed charges against former Officials

By Keti Arjevanidze
Monday, January 21
Tbilisi City Court made a decision about people involved in the bankruptcy scheme of Cartu Bank on January 19th. Accused Zurab Adeishvili, former Justice Minister was sentenced to prison in absentia, as he still wanted by Interpol.

Several former high ranking government officials including Jaba Ebanoidze, the former head of the Revenue Service and Nika Melia, the Governor of Old Tbilisi, connected with the case, were sentenced for a criminal scheme designed to bankrupt Bank Cartu then owned by Bidzina Ivanizhvili.

According to Eka Areshidze, the spokesperson of Tbilisi City Court Ebanoidze was held with bail set at GEL 30 000, and Melia's at 25 000. Areshidze also added that Ebanoidze, Melia and others have not left the territory of Georgia and visited the investigating bodies whenever they were charged. “The court also took into consideration the severity of the charge brought against them,” admitted Areshidze. The next court hearing is marked on March 7.

Irakli Grdzelidze, lawyer of Adeishvili is going to appeal against the sentence in the Court of Appeal. “We will appeal this decision inevitably within the terms of law, as my client was sentenced in absentia,” he said.

The lawyer of Melia, Gogita Gabaidze declared that he is going to appeal to the Tbilisi City Court’s decision as he does not agree with the bail.

Gabaidze’s client, Melia also commented after the trial. He said the bail does not mean anything and expressed assurance that after the next trial, the prosecution would not be able to provide any evidence.

Jaba Ebanoidze, former head of the Revenue Service confirmed his guilt but partially. “The rest will be decided on the trial,” said Ebanoidze after interrogation on January 16th.

Interior Ministry announced on December 17th that it was investigating a criminal scheme which was planned by the previous authorities aiming to bankrupt Cartu Bank.

According to the official information the first phase of the plan was to make legislative amendments authorizing “to sell the property of legal entities in case of discovering a debt, ignoring the fact those properties were mortgaged in favor of banks.”

The aim of the changes was to “deprive Cartu Bank from re-buying its property at a reasonable price. The auctions were artificially canceled under the guidance of the National Bureau of Enforcement, owning to which the property was handed over to the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development. For its part, the Ministry of Economy sold off property to other individuals under the decree of the President. Adoption of the mentioned law was aimed only at bankrupting Cartu Bank.”

However, United National Movement (UNM) MP Davit Sakvarelidze said accusations against Melia and Ebanoidze are intentionally fabricated and serve as the part of Prime Minister Ivanishvili’s “private vendetta.”