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Georgian Dream fined for election fraud

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Wednesday, February 29
The Chamber of Control, which monitors the finances of Georgia's political parties, has fined a Georgian Dream donor ten times his donation, and charged the party itself 200 000 GEL for alleged electoral fraud.

The Chamber alleges that on February 20, Nugzar Khutsishvili, an employee of Cartu Mshenebeli, a company in Bidzina Ivanishvili’s Cartu Group, received from his employer an “unusually high bonus” of 40 000 GEL, half of which he then donated to Georgian Dream.

The Chamber said that this donation was a clear case of channelling corporate money into Ivanishvili’s party through an individual donor. Corporate donations to a political party, or group “directly or indirectly” linked with a party, are banned under new regulations.

In the course of their investigation, the Chamber discovered that Khutishvili has a monthly salary of 1000 GEL, and had never before received a bonus from Cartu Mshenebeli in the course of his many years with the company.

The Chamber warned individuals to refrain from similar schemes, as the penalties devised by the law will be applied to them as well as to the party that benefited.

Lawyers representing Georgian Dream assert that the Chamber lacks the proper authority to monitor their finances, or to impose penalties. "We protest the fact of financial monitoring of Georgian Dream by the Chamber of Control and we have already appealed to the court," the party announced.

Maia Panjikidze, spokesperson for Georgian Dream, stated that Khutsishvili is an individual and therefore has the right to carry out political donations. She added that his monthly income is 5000 GEL, and not the sum named by the Chamber.