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Ivanishvili hires international legal defence

By Salome Modebadze
Thursday, August 2
Georgian Dream leader Bidizna Ivanishvili submitted the Final Notice of Dispute for the case Ivanishvili vs. the Government of Georgia. Skadden, an international legal firm, will protect Ivanishvili’s interests “from the illegal treatment of his investments in two Georgian commercial banks: JSC Cartu Bank and JSC Progress Bank.”

Coalition spokesperson Maia Panjikidze said on August 1 that Skadden prepared Ivanishvili’s legal documents and addressed them to President Mikheil Saakashvili and the Minister of Justice Zurab Adeishvili. “Georgia’s campaign against Ivanishvili has been an attack on many fronts,” the document reads, and it highlights the incidents of “intimidation” that have occurred on behalf of the state against Ivanishvili from very start of his entrance into Georgian political arena in October, 2011.

The GEL 80 million which Ivanishvili recently paid as a fine, is not included in the document because the Georgian Dream leader has made this transfer for assisting the people affected by July 19’s heavy rainstorm in Georgian regions.

Chronologically listing “Georgia’s campaign of intimidation and expropriation,” the international company stated that “although Ivanishvili remains open to finding an amicable solution, the hostile attitude of the current government and the targeted nature of the attacks against him suggest that any negotiations will be futile.”

The original English text of the document was sent to the addressees on July 31. Saakashvili and Adeishvili have 14 days for “peaceful negotiations” with the defendant, otherwise the dispute will move to the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) in Washington, considered to be the leading international arbitration institution devoted to investor-state dispute settlement. Its convention is a multilateral treaty formulated by the executive directors of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development known as the World Bank.

Lawyer Archil Kbilashvili who is also representing Ivanishvili’s along with Skadden, explained that the government will have to cover not only the amount of money Ivanishvili has lost since last October, but the relevant percentage of interest added to the total amount during this period. Although he could not specify the exact amount, he estimates that it will be several hundred million USD.

Ivanishvili's shareholding interests in Cartu Bank and Progress Bank are protected under the Treaty on the Encouragement and Reciprocal Protection of Investments between Georgia and France dated February 1997. Kbilashvili explained to The Messenger that according to the Treaty, the sides have to try to eradicate the problem “through friendly ways” before filing the case to the arbitrage.

If the President and the Minister of Justice agree to negotiate during this fortnight, they will have to accept and acknowledge the actions taken against Cartu Bank and Progress Bank; prepare to resolve this dispute promptly through good faith negotiations and pay the resulting damages owed to Ivanishvili under international law. Kbilashvili told The Messenger that Ivanishvili does not need to become richer, he only aims at “stopping illegality.”

After the deadline given to the government, the document will be sent to the international centre. Kbilashvili said there were two cases at that count when the countries were obliged to pay the fine to the defendants.

The Messenger tried to reach the spokespeople of President Saakashvili and Minister Adeishvili to know whether the addressee of Ivanishvili’s Final Notice of Dispute have looked at the document. Adeishvili’s spokesperson confirmed that the Ministry has received the notice but could not make any comments about the document.