TBILISI, DFWatch–The Georgian government on Friday defended Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili after he was listed in an article in the Guardian as one of the people who own secret companies registered on the British Virgin Islands.
The reason he didn’t disclose it in his declaration of property for 2011-2012 is that the prime minister didn’t hold any shares in companies registered in the British Virgin Islands during that time, and thus, he wasn’t obliged to.
As for the current assets, he has described all of these in the most recent declaration of property, according to a statement issued by the government.
Georgia’s PM is a well-known billionaire, who earned most of his fortune in Russia. According to data from Forbes Magazine, he is now in 229th place with USD 5.3 billion in March 2013. His fortune shrunk by USD 1.1 billion compared to 2012, when it was USD 6.4 billion, enough to land him in 153rd place on Forbes’ list.
The Guardian article says that members of the Liberal-Democratic party fear that ‘the secret haven of the BVI “stains the face of Britain”, while anti-corruption campaigners called for action from the British prime minister, David Cameron.’
Ivanishvili is on the list of names of people who have shares on the British Virgin Islands. Among the names are influential people from Pakistan, India, Thailand and Indonesia.
“How can David Cameron keep a straight face calling for the G8 to make big business pay tax when we let the BVI use British law and British protection to suck in billions in dirty money?” Guardian quotes Lord Oakeshott, who represents the Liberal Democratic Party.
The Guardian mentions Bosherston Overseas Corp of Bidzina Ivanishvili. It also carries a quote by a spokesperson for Ivanishvili who says that everything was done legally.
“For the reporting period of 2011-12, Prime Minister Ivanishvili had no interest in the company … and therefore there was no obligation to report it in his [financial] declaration.’
The day after the Guardian article was published, the government issued a statement which says that Ivanishvili didn’t hold any shares in the British Virgin Islands in 2011-2012 and secret companies registered there and thus he wasn’t obliged to write it in his property declaration.
“Bidzina Ivanishvili repeatedly stated that he will strictly follow the law in order to provide maximal transparency and will publish information about own finances,” the statement reads.