TBILISI, DFWatch – Tbilisi City Court once more issued a fine to Saakashvili’s main competitor Bidzina Ivanishvi. The case was brought by the State Audit Office, which accused the businessman of illegally donating to his own party and fined him 20 243 827 lari, or about USD 12 million.
The State Audit Office claims that Ivanishvili funneled his own money through other people in order to donate to Georgian Dream, the opposition party he heads. In addition, the court decided that th eAudit Office incorrect had counted the money incorrectly, and had it counted once again, after which the amount decreased from 5 552 135 lari to 4 048 765, and Ivanishvili was fined five times this amount.
At the beginning of the trial, lawyers working for Ivanishvili requested to have the judge Nana Daraselia replaced, because she also ruled in a case a few months ago and fined Ivanishvili 22 million lari, which might mean she is not objective, they reasoned.
But their request was not granted. Bidzina Ivanishvili’s lawyers consider the decision illegal.
Sandro Baramidze, one of the lawyers, said after the trial that this is the most unfair decision among all the decisions made against Ivanishvili.
He says the money for which the businessman is being fined is at home with his wife Ekaterine Khvedelidze, and there are documents which prove it. But the judge didn’t allow the businessman’s lawyers to present this evidence during the court case.
Bidzina Ivanishvili has to pay the fine within seven days. Lawyers say he doesn’t plan to pay the fine and will appeal the ruling to the Appeals Court on Monday.
On Friday, the well-known football player Kakhi Kaladze, who is now a partner of Ivanishvili, was fined 17 million lari for a similar charge. He also plans to not pay the fine, considering it illegal, and will appeal the decision.