TBILISI, DFWatch – One of the largest electronics chains in Georgia has been taken away from its founder, as the remaining 15 per cent of shares were sold at an auction.
Anzor Kokoladze, who built the chain from scratch, is serving an eight year prison term after a tax dispute. He accuses the authorities in Georgia of having conspired to rob him of his life’s work.
“I consider this is continuation of a dishonest fraudulent plan, with the active involvement of the Prosecutor’s Office, TBC Bank, Mamuka Khazaradze, the Revenue Service, the Tbilisi Mayor and the Court, using various financial instruments and abusing state authority,” he said in a statement from prison.
Elit Electronics, which started in 1995 as a small audio cassette stand on the market in Batumi, today is one of the largest electronics chains in the country and the distributor of the biggest brands.
In his statement, Kokoladze detailed the appropriation by other companies and government officials.
“I consider this a continuation of a dishonest fraudulent plan, where there are actively involved Prosecutor’s Office, TBC Bank, Mamuka Khazaradze, Revenue Service, Tbilisi Mayor and Court using various financial instruments and abusing state authority.”
The problems began in 2009 when, according to company representatives, Elit Electronics was illegally charged seven million dollars by tax authorities.
The chain’s founder says TBC Bank, which was creditor and had mortgaged 55 per cent of the company, used this moment to gain management rights over the company. When the chain violated a payment schedule by failing to pay 5 000 lari by the required time, TBC Bank appropriated the 55 per cent share for 116 000 lari. The founder was arrested and sentenced to about eight years in jail.
Bank Republic is holder of a 30 per cent share in the company. Kokoladze held the remaining 15 per cent until recently, but his share has now been sold at an auction for 72 675 lari. Who the buyer was is still unknown.
When Elit Electronics was founded in 1996, it hand only three employees. Later Kikodze opened a small shop in the city, and it later grew into one of the most popular electronics chains in Georgia, and today has 31 outlets.
After having lost an appeal in Supreme Court, Kokoladze says he will continue his fight for justice at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.