TBILISI, DFWatch – The financial monitoring service of Georgia’s state audit office accuses Bidzina Ivanishvili and his partner, a former professional football player, of withdrawing money from their own accounts, and calls on both of them to return the money to their accounts.
Lawyers say that the monitoring service doesn’t have a right to ask them to do this, because there is no clause in Georgian legislation that prohibits people from withdrawing money from their own account.
Georgian Dream has problems with financing, because new legislation only allows individuals to donate to a party, and they may only donate a maximum of 60 000 lari, or about USD 36 400.
Recently, the government has fined almost all persons who donated to Georgian Dream, and their property is being put up for auction.
Now, the government is preventing Bidzina Ivanishvili and Kakhi Kaladze from withdrawing money from their own bank accounts.
Kaladze is already under investigation for money laundering, because the chief prosecutor’s office calculated his private expenses, compared to his cash withdrawals, and found that too much money had been cashed out, compared to his documented spending.
According to the State Audit Office (SAO), Ivanishvili, head of the Georgian Dream coalition, and his partner withdrew a large amount of cash without indicated the purpose. Specifically, Bidzina Ivanishvili cashed out about USD 3 365 000, while Kakhi Kaladze withdrew nearly USD 2 055 000.
“Given their political activities, and in order to determine the intended use of the cash, the State Audit Office sent letters to Bidzina Ivanishvili and Kakhi Kaladze requesting that they present documentation for how the cash had been spent. This was in order to ensure that the millions of lari that had been withdrawn were not being dispensed in violation of Georgian law. The SAO’s request was rejected by both individuals,” the State Audit Office writes.
Sandro Baramidze, lawyer for the Georgian Dream coalition, considers what the audit office did illegal.
“There is no law prohibiting a person from withdrawing money from his own account,” he says, “there is no such prohibition. In addition, we cannot use any legal way to prevent the Audit Office’s action…”