TBILISI, DFWatch – The Georgian opposition billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili refuses to pay a USD 90 million fine he was issued for illegal party funding.
This could lead to seizure and forced sale of his property.
The 149 million lari fine corresponds to 2.1 percent of Georgia’s state income and about 1.4 percent of Ivanishvili’s fortune, which Forbes magazine valued at USD 6.4 billion.
After Monday’s ruling, Ivanishvili said he would refuse to pay the fine. The court made decisions on two administrative cases based on a request from the Chamber of Control (CoC), which based on a new law is conducting financial monitoring of political parties. The audit body thinks Ivansihvili violated the law about party financing.
Ivanishvili says the court’s decision is not in accordance with the law, because the CoC has not provided proof for its accusations, which is that the businessman financed the activity of his political party Georgian Dream, which is prohibited by law.
“They determine relations based on rumors, just the way Saakashvili’s television stations do. Their terminology has been introduced in the courtroom. The judge doesn’t even consider himself obliged to explain the legal situation to the defense lawyers on the grounds of law. They explain this very simple – but everybody knows this, he is his brother, he had relations with this company earlier. This is absurd beyond all bounds,” Ivanishvili says.
After Ivanishvili’s refusal to pay, other sanctions will come into play, but the philanthropist says he doesn’t fear the government’s decisions.
While his lawyers are appealing to the Appeals Court and threaten to challenge the ruling all the way in international courts, the authorities are expecting Ivanishvili to pay within seven days, because in a departure from normal practice, an appeal in these kinds of cases does not have postponing powers.
Pavle Kublashvili, head of parliament’s judiciary committee, says the government will act within the frames of law.
Beka Dochviri, lawyer from Georgian Young Lawyer’s Association, explains that in this case the government has the opportunity to seize any property he has, including property abroad.
“This procedure does not intend to impose fines. After seven days they will appeal to the executive bureau, which will within five days send a message and will give him seven extra days to pay the money. If he doesn’t pay, it is possible to sell his assets at an auction or to manage this property by force from government.”
None of Ivanishvili’s lawyers, nor anyone in Georgian Dream, can say what property Ivanishvili has in Georgia.
Dochviri says if any property is registered in his name, either as full or part owner, the government can seize or manage the property.
“If Bidzina Ivanishvili’s property in Georgia isn’t enough to claim [the amount of the fine], it is possible for them to ask appropriate bodies in other countries where he has property, which will recognize Georgia’s decision on its territory and execute this country’s executive or other appropriate bodies and accordingly send money to the creditor; the Georgian government.”
They cannot touch property which is registered in the name of family members of Ivanishvili. Dochviri says if the fine is not paid, there is not legal basis for arresting or deporting the person.