TBILISI, DFWatch – Georgian authorities are starting to seize the property of billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili.
(Article has been updated.)
A prosecutor has ordered thousands of satellite receivers seized, while another office is preparing to forcefully collect a USD 45 million fine.
The Prosecutor General today decided to seize thousands of satellite receivers belonging to Global Contact Consulting.
This is one of three companies suspected of having been used by opposition financier Bidzina Ivanishvili for election purposes. In a recent court case, the party finance audit bureau under the Chamber of Control argued that Ivanishvili’s opposition movement Georgian Dream distributed thousands of satellite receivers to the population for free, and that the receivers were provided by this company.
The opposition financier was issued a fine, which ended up being USD 45 million, for services provided by two of his companies that benefited his opposition movement Georgian Dream, but is challenging the court’s decision and refusing to pay the fine.
According to a statement from the Prosecutor General’s office, the seizure of thousands of satellite receivers is only to be ‘temporary’, until the investigation is completed. The statement says prosecutors were acting on the basis of information provided by the Chamber of Control.
It further says that the Chamber warned the company, but some persons are still continuing to distribute satellite receivers; a situation in which prosecutors determined that there may be indications of a crime in progress.
Channel 9, a new TV station owned by Ivanishvili’s wife, is only distributed by one cable company, but has access to a satellite. However, only about twenty percent of the population have access to satellite TV.
Now another branch of authorities is moving in on Ivanishvili’s six billion dollar fortune. Monday, the seven day deadline for paying the fine expired. The rules for collecting this kind of fines are strict, and Ivanishvili does not get a stay to pay.
Following procedures, the city court in Tbilisi sent what’s called an executive document to the National Executive Bureau, which will now start an execution process.
The Bureau has the right to seize his property in Georgia, and if that is not enough, they can ask other countries to seize his assets there too.