The state audit agency, Chamber of Control, said on March 15, that it had fined billionaire opposition politician Bidzina Ivanishvili’s one of the companies with USD 1.5 million for a transaction, which the agency said, amounted to donating Ivanishvili’s public movement Georgian Dream promotional t-shirts worth USD 150,000.
Corporate funding, whether monetary or services provided free of charge or under discount prices, is banned by the party funding legislation.
The state audit agency said in a statement, that Elita Burji, a construction firm affiliated with Cartu Group which is a holding incorporating firms and organizations owned by Bidzina Ivanishvili, had been contracted by Georgian Dream to provide the movement with 200,000 t-shirts with the movement’s logo worth of USD 500,000.
Elita Burji, the agency said, ordered t-shirts to a Turkish company and transferred the latter USD 150,000.
The state audit agency said that after studying the transaction it found that the Georgian Dream had no expenses at all in the deal and ordering t-shirts on behalf of the public movement by Elita Burji was “qualified as donation of USD 150,000 in favor of the Georgian Dream”. The agency said that the move constituted violation of the law and was “subject of penalty ten times the amount of the illegal donation.”
In a separate statement, also on March 15, the state audit agency said that it was investigating the case involving GEL 406,525 provided to members of the Georgian Dream public movement as salary.
The agency released a list of about forty individuals, affiliated with Ivanishvili’s public movement Georgian Dream, which, the agency said, were receiving funds not from the Georgian Dream, but directly from Bidzina Ivanishvili, who has no Georgian citizenship and currently holds the French passport. The agency said that this kind of funding constituted violation of law on political parties, but it did not specify in the statement which provision was violated. The agency also said that probe into this case was still ongoing.
On March 12 the state audit agency accused Ivanishvili’s Cartu Bank of violating party funding regulations and fined it with GEL 822,040 (about USD 497,000).
In late February Ivanishvili’s movement Georgia Dream, one of its donors and the latter’s employer firm, affiliated with Ivanishvili, have been fined with GEL 200,000 (about USD 120,000) each for donation which the state audit agency said was a sham transaction aimed at bypassing restrictions set by the political funding legislature.
With the most recent fine, ruled on March 15 by the state audit agency, total financial penalty imposed on Ivanishvili’s movement or other entities and individuals affiliated with the billionaire opposition politician for alleged violation of party funding regulations now reached total of GEL 3.9 million (about USD 2.4 million).