TBILISI, DFWatch – A company owned by Georgian billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili claims the customs service is deliberately damaging goods as they arrive from abroad, and that this only started after he said he wanted to go to politics.
His company Cartu Group says goods arriving through customs have a loss of 700 000 lari, or nearly 420 000 US dollars, due to deliberate damage. Company representatives are asking that foreign diplomats monitor their goods at the custom control.
Representative of Cartu Group Vladimer Khundadze told journalists Friday that since October all their goods have been arriving through the so-called red corridor. International organizations and diplomats were also present at the press conference.
According to Georgian legislation, goods arriving at customs are subject to selective examination, and suspicious goods fall in the so-called red corridor, where goods are examined in detail. The law says that goods should be put through such thorough checking when the owner has been known to violate revenue or custom rules.
Cartu Group representatives claim that they never committed such violations.
“If it was necessary to examine Cartu Group goods in 5-10% of cases before, now they stop 100% of the goods and examine them in detail. Since October 7, when Bidzina Ivanishvili made the statement about entering politics, all of our goods fall into the so-called red corridor,” Vladimer Khundadze said.
He explains that goods which are sent in a healthy condition from various countries and enter Georgia unharmed, are damaged in the customs. In most cases the damage is deliberate, which is also confirmed by a closer inspection carried out by Cartu Group.
“We informed diplomats and international organizations about these problems, gave them video material which proves that our goods transferred from the custom terminals are not in working condition,” Khundadze said.
At the meeting held with diplomats, Tina Khidasheli, spokesperson for the Republican Party, one of Ivanishvili’s partners, also participated. She connects these custom problems with the latest political activities of Ivanishvili.
“The government tries to attack Ivanishvili in all ways, including property infringement,” she says.
“Musical, studio equipment is damaged in the terminals, as well as technical equipment for medical institutions. Specifically, according to Cartu Group’s information, it’s about the loss of 700 000 lari.”
She added that they will held two more meetings about the problems around Cartu Fund, changes in the law about political associations of citizens, and will make all their findings available to diplomats.
“Two funds are active in Georgia in connection with Bidzina Ivanishvili name: Cartu and Atu. They had been implementing various charity programs in the field of education, healthcare, culture, and in the regions. Parliament has already adopted a law, which prohibited doing charity in Georgia, and many people who need help will face problems, due to the legislation approved by parliament on December 28. We plan to inform diplomats of all these problems,” Khidasheli told DFWatch.(Image shows Tina Khidasheli (center), a spokesperson for the Republican Party, which is allied with Bidzina Ivanishvili. Photo: Rusiko Machaidze.)