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‘Georgia’s authorities plotting to bankrupt opposition bank’

by | Dec 8, 2011

TBILISI, DFWatch – An opposition parliamentarian claims that the government of Georgia is involved in a scheme to force a billionaire businessman and political newcomer’s bank into bankrupcy.

The scheme, as Giorgi Tsagareishvili describes it, involves a combination of legislative changes and a large loan from the businessman Bidzina Ivanishvili’s Cartu Bank made with security in real estate.

Key to the plot, according to Tsagareishvili, is the mother of the country’s police chief, who is formally responsible for the loan, the Free Democrats representative said in parliament Wednesday.

He said it is nothing more than a fraudulent scheme, which the government is part of. Specifically, Laura Ghachava, the mother of the head of the criminal police, has received several million lari in credit from Bidzina Ivanishvili’s Cartu Bank. To get the credit there was an investment made in real estate at expensive locations around Tbilisi.

Tsagareishvili says that a law recently adopted by parliament gives the government an opportunity to appropriate the pledge itself, which will force the bank into bankruptcy.

Before the changes were adopted, if a person was unable to manage the loan, his property was sold via an auction and that credit institution from which he first borrowed would be first in line. With the new rules, first of all, any outstanding tax debt is covered. In addition, such tax debt may be kept away from the public’s knowledge. In case there is a hidden tax debt, this person’s property may be taken over by the state, and if he has a debt to a bank or private persons, their claims will be secondary to the state’s tax claim.

Considering the fact that these changes were adopted at the same time as businessman Bidzina Ivanishvili decided to enter politics, and while his bank was subject to a police raid and charges of money laundering, the opposition has expressed concern that the new rules would be used against his Cartu Bank.

They expected that there would suddenly be “discovered” such hidden tax debt among the bank’s borrowers, and the property, which represents the bank’s credit guarantee, would be taken over by the government. This way, the bank won’t be able to get the money back, nor will it have claims in the property which is the loan’s guarantee.

Giorgi Tsagareishvili, representative of the Free Democrats and the chairman of the parliament faction Unity for Justice, named specific companies, through which this scheme will be implemented against Cartu Bank.

Tsagareishvili says that one of Cartu Bank’s borrowers is Caucasian Group of Real Estate, owned by Bulitebi Ltd and Tennis Club Dinamo Ltd.

Based on documents from the Civil Registry, Tennis Dinamo is 98% owned by Ghachava, and she is also 100% owner of Bulitebi, Tsagareishvili says.

According to him, shortly after the new legislative regulations went into force, the Caucasian Group of Real Estates signed a scam deal with the joint stock company Pirimze, 49.99% shares owner of which is Laura Ghachava and 45.97% – her husband, Nodar Kodua.

Tsagareishvili says that this deal is itself against the law, because it is in its very essence a scam. According to Georgian legislation, a scam deal means hiding property via a false or misleading deal which is done to avoid expected or already existing property liability. The punishment for this action is from six to nine years in prison.

Despite the fact that the prosecutor’s office should be investigating this deal, the government uses it against Cartu.

“Cartu Bank had lost the property, which was guaranteeing more than 70 million GELs credits,” Tsagareishvili claims.

He says that the same scam deal was enforced in the city Batumi with Batoil Ltd, which had transferred movable and immovable property via the same rule to the Akhalsopeli Animal Facilities Ltd. The movable property was valued at 11 million lari. One Sergi Kakalashvili is named as owner of both companies.

These deals combined means that 70 million lari of Cartu Bank’s credit commitments are unsecured. This represents almost 20% of the bank’s total loan portfolio.

Tsagareishvili says that if Cartu Bank’s unsecured commitments increases to 25%, the rules say that the National Bank will intervene.

“Giorgi Kadagidze, president of the National Bank said in parliament that if Cartu won’t act smarter we will pacify it – and the pacifying has begun. All these are fragments of one event, which are connected to each other as a blood and flesh,” Tsagareishvili claims.

The government has yet to comment on the issue.



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