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Omega Group Founder Says Ivanishvili Demanded GEL 4 million from him

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Tuesday, October 2
Founder of the Omega Group business corporation Zaza Okuashvili told Rustavi 2 private broadcaster on Sunday that the founder of the Georgian Dream ruling party, billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili demanded four million GEL from him to regain the financial loss of 25 million GEL he [Okuashvili] experienced under the United National Movement leadership in 2004-2005.

Okuashvili said that former and current top officials of the Georgian Dream leadership, as well as two key banks of Georgia-TBC and Bank of Georgia, were involved in the illegal scheme against Omega.

The Georgian Dream leadership, Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze and now the head of the Georgian Dream political council Bidzina Ivanishvili say that Okuashvili is acting with the United National Movement opposition and trying to discredit the current state leadership.

The parliamentary opposition has demanded the arrival of top law enforcers in parliament to answer the questions regarding the complicated case.

Omega, which unites cigarette, car and media companies, says that under the Georgian Dream leadership its cigarette company OGT suffered $100 million in losses as multinational company British American Tobacco violated the laws on competition and tobacco control.

Okuashvili claims that the British-American Tobacco was lobbed by former PM Giorgi Kvirikashvili and other state officials.

The corporation says that they had to take loans to cover their necessary expenses, however, they failed to meet their financial obligations.

Omega Group says that they appealed to the government in 2017 to have their debt restructured, but the government lingered the process which increased the corporation’s financial obligations to millions.

Currently, the Omega Group has more than 50 million GEL debt to the state budget, while its financial obligations to the Bank of Georgia is more than 84 million GEL.

Okuashvili says that Ivanishvili took demanded four million GEL from him with the help of the TBC bank leadership, who were suppressed by the Georgian Dream government to violate mandatory procedures and banking rules.

TBC called the statement lie and reported that they will sue Okuashvili.

Parliament Speaker Irakli Kobakhidze said that Okuashvili returned back his business in Georgia under the Georgian Dream leadership as he was “severely attacked” by the United National Movement government in 2004.

“Now Okuashvili is acting with the United National Movement to somehow avoid the financial responsibilities he has to the state and banks,” Kobakhidze said.

Okuashvili lived in the UK until the Georgian Dream leadership defeated the nine-year rule of the United National Movement government in 2012.