The family of late tycoon Badri Patarkatsishvili, a founder of Imedi media holding, said sale of the TV and radio station by Joseph Kay was illegal as the latter himself seized the hodling through illegal means.
A local unit of UAE’s Ras Al Khaimah (RAK) emirate’s investment fund, RAK Georgia Holding, has purchased 90% of Imedi, for undisclosed price. 10% of shares remain in Joseph Kay’s ownership, his legal representative said on February 25.
The Patarkatsishvili family said in a statement on February 25 that the deal “shows President Saakashvili is prepared to put Georgia’s media freedom up for sale… Saakashvili and his government took Imedi and now plan to transfer it to a subsidiary of an Arab emirate with no experience in free broadcasting.”
“This is how much the Georgian government cares for personal property and free speech,” it added.
Joseph Kay, a distant relative of Patarkatsishvili, claims that he became the television station’s owner after he had bought shares from Gogi Jaoshvili “simply by paying money” in February, 2008, after the death of Patarkatsishvili.
Imedi TV and radio were not directly owned by Petriashvili; instead shares were registered on his close friend Gogi Jaoshvili’s name. The latter was owner of 70% of JMG, a company with a 65% stake in I-Media, which has total ownership of Imedi TV and radio. Jaoshvili also was a chairman of I-Media’s board of supervisors.
Jaoshvili made his first public statement on the matter on December 10, 2008, at a press conference convened by the Patarkatsishvili family and attorneys representing the family’s interests. He said that he was forced to give up his shares into the media holding as a result of pressure exerted on him by the Georgian authorities.
In a statement on February 25, the Patarkatsishvili family also claimed that “actual ownership of RAK Georgia Holding is not clear.” It suggested that groups within the Georgian authorities could have been behind the local partners of the company.
This year RAK Georgia Holding’s daughter company has purchased controlling stakes into the People’s Bank. Former PM, Zurab Nogaideli, and a leader of newly set up opposition party Movement for Fair Georgia, has alleged that Interior Minister Vano Merabishvili’s associates were behind the company not RAK Georgia Holding – the allegation was denied by the Holding itself.