Tina Khidasheli of Republican Party, which is within Georgian Dream opposition coalition, said that the coalition leader Bidzina Ivanishvili should not pay multi-million fine, imposed by the court on June 11.
“My personal opinion is that he should not pay this fine,” Khidasheli told Tbilisi-based Maestro TV on June 12.
She said that there were several options through which the situation might be tackled through legal means, but would not discuss them publicly at this stage.
Khidasheli said that next obvious step for now was to appeal the court’s ruling, which should be done within 48 hours after the ruling was made by the court of first instance.
Ivanishvili’s lawyers and his political allies said that although the ruling would be appealed there was no chance of success, accusing judiciary of partaking in the authorities’ campaign of targeting the billionaire opposition politician.
According to the law fine should be paid within seven days after the ruling was delivered by the court of first instance on June 11.
In case of refusal to pay the fine, Ivanishvili may face property seizure, which is applied if an individual fails to pay a financial penalty.
In its two separate rulings on June 11 Tbilisi City Court imposed total of GEL 148.68 million (about USD 90.9 million) fine on Ivanishvili after the state audit agency decided that the Georgian Dream leader violated party funding regulations.
The amount of fine constitutes to 2.1% of Georgia’s total budget revenues set for this year and about 1.4% of Ivanishvili’s personal wealth, estimated to be USD 6.4 billion.
In a separate case, but also related to Ivanishvili, the Court of Appeal on June 12 halved GEL 4.76 million (up to USD 3 million) fine, imposed on Management Service by the state audit agency in May for violating law on political party funding.
Management Service is an offshore-registered company affiliated with Ivanishvili, which manages a dolphinarium in Batumi and an amusement park in Kobuleti, both Black Sea resort towns in Adjara region.
On May 15 the state audit agency said that services, involving renting of office spaces for the Georgian Dream coalition and renovation of those offices, constituted to donation in an amount of GEL 476,619. The Georgian legislation bans corporate donations to political parties. The company was fined with amount ten times of the sum involved.
Ivanishvili’s lawyers appealed the state audit agency’s decision to the Tbilisi City Court, which in late May upheld GEL 4.76 million fine; lawyers then took the case to the Court of Appeal, which took into consideration the fact that since the Tbilisi City Court’s verdict the law on political parties was amended and fines for violation of party funding rules was decreased to five, instead of ten, times the sum in question; as a result the Court of Appeals halved the penalty and the Management Service will have to pay GEL 2.38 million.
The Management Service, which denied any wrongdoing, said that even the halved fine was exceeding company’s total assets and it would now face bankruptcy.