The State Audit Office (SAO) told Bidzina Ivanishvili, the leader of Georgian Dream opposition coalition, and his ally, retired footballer Kakha Kaladze, to return back to their bank accounts several millions in cash they had withdrawn this year.
SAO, formerly Chamber of Control, which is also in charge of monitoring political finances, said that in the course of this year USD 2,918,500, GEL 735,189 and EUR 700 was withdrawn in cash from personal account of Ivanishvili in Cartu Bank.
It also said that Kaladze, who is the Georgian Dream’s majoritarian MP candidate in Samtredia single-mandate constituency, withdrew from his Georgian bank accounts GEL 3,388,992 in cash.
SAO says that as both Ivanishvili and Kaladze have “declared electoral goals” they fall under the state audit agency’s monitoring and for that reason requested them to submit documented information about spending of withdrawn cash, but they refused.
In late July the authorities froze Kaladze’s Georgian bank accounts as part of an ongoing investigation into “alleged legalization of illegal income i.e. money laundering”.
“This demand by the [state audit agency] to return money back to their bank accounts is legally groundless, because there is no legal provision that would obligate persons to do so… So Bidzina Ivanishvili is not going to fulfill this yet another illegal demand from the [state audit agency],” Ivanishvili's lawyer Alexander Baramidze said.