The leader of a business chamber in Georgia says he helped the previous government try to bankrupt Cartu Bank, which was owned by current Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili.
Giorgi Isakadze, Chair of Georgia’s Small and Medium Enterprises Association, Thursday told his story to the media after testifying in connection with an investigation into what happened to the bank after Ivanishvili signaled interest in going into politics.
Among the many unusual misfortunes Ivanishvili and his associates experienced at the hands of the government were measures against Cartu Bank. This included legislative changes, but also the use of creditors as part of an illegal scheme.
During this time, Cartu Bank gave USD 62 million to the creditors. The goal of the scheme was to make the bank lose this money, which would bring it into bankruptcy. Parliament adopted amendments, which said that if a person or company is unable to manage certain liabilities, the state has the right to sell the property of the legal person on auction, even if this property was mortgaged in the bank.
According to the Interior Ministry, former Justice Minister Zurab Adeishvili, who is currently abroad and his location is unknown, Jaba Ebanoidze, former head of Revenue Service, Mamuka Lashkhia, former head of Audit Department of the Revenue Service and Otar Agladze, Deputy Chair of the Chief Board, were involved in carrying out this illegal scheme.
Those persons contacted businessmen close to the previous government who had liabilities in Cartu Bank. They signed contracts with the Revenue Service, ‘admitting’ that they had tax debts.
Afterward, the National Enforcement Bureau conducted a fictitious auction, pretending to sell the properties while in reality none of them were sold. Instead, they were transferred to the economy minister and following a decree by the president, they were sold through direct sale. The properties were then returned to the same people who owned them before or to their relatives.
According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA), Giorgi Isakadze’s businesses – Logosi Ltd and Tetri Sakhli – were among the companies.
Thursday, Giorgi Isakadze released a statement that he is ‘somewhat guilty towards Cartu Bank’ and is ready to be held responsible under the law for his actions. After what happened, he has left business as a sign of remorse.
But he also questions why the Interior Ministry’s statement mentions only his name, when the companies used in the scheme also had other owners who also were involved.
“I appeal to the MIA and Cartu to correct the mistake about announcing my participation in this illegal scheme, which violated the presumption of innocence; they selectively named a businessman attaching vague labels. I think it is impossible for me to continue doing business with such a damaged reputation,” he writes, adding that he is ready to cooperate with investigators on the Cartu Bank case.
“In spite of any results, no matter how the investigation ends, I made a decision to leave active business.”
President of Cartu Bank Nodar Javakhishvili told DF Watch that ‘it will be good if Isakadze will clear out all liabilities to Cartu Bank, otherwise his apologies won’t be worth a single cent.”