Ivanishvili's companies – the forge for government officials
After the 2012 parliamentary elections, persons working in the companies associated with the former Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili or their family members have been appointed or elected to leading positions in the Public Service. According to the Officials’ Asset Declarations database, at least 38 officials have in the past worked in companies associated with Bidzina Ivanishvili, six of whom currently hold political office. We do not claim that these people have been illegally appointed or elected to their positions. However, this trend raises concerns as to whether the principle of merit-based selection of public officials has been justly applied. The fact that a pattern can be detected of individuals who were formerly employed by companies associated with Bidzina Ivanishvili being appointed to senior positions in the public service further reinforces the commonly held belief that the former Prime Minister still has influence on the government.
In addition to the 38 officials previously engaged in the companies directly related to Mr. Ivanishvili, in 14 other cases, it was family members of officials who had been employed in such companies. People of different experience who held different positions in the companies related to Bidzina Ivanishvili have been employed in the leading positions of virtually every branch of government. For example:
- Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili was the Director General of the Cartu Foundation, Director of Georgian Dream Ltd, and a member of the Cartu Bank’s Supervisory Board;
- Nodar Javakhishvili who, as reported on April 21, will head the Ministry of Regional Development and Infrastructure was the Director General at Cartu Bank and Cartu Group;
- Interior Minister Vakhtang Gomelauri had for years been employed in Bidzina Ivanishvili’s security service;
- Giorgi Kvirikashvili, Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development, held the position of General Director of JSC Cartu Bank;
- Paata Abramishvili, acting governor of Marneuli municipality, worked as a driver in Elita Burji Ltd; and
- Ivane Goshadze, now former governor of Sachkhere, worked as a foreman in ATU association.
For comparison purposes, TI Georgia counted how many officials have moved from similar companies to the public sector. We took two companies as samples: the construction company Axis and the Bank of Georgia. Only two persons have been appointed to office from Axis since 2012, whereas the number of people appointed to office from the Bank of Georgia made 12, including deputy governor (1), acting gamgebeli (1), deputy gamgebelis (2), acting deputy mayor (1), and heads or deputy heads of departments and administrations within different public agencies (7). None of these hold political office or leading positions in the executive branch.
Importantly, certain people previously engaged in companies related to Mr. Ivanishvili were actively involved in the election race from the very onset of the former Prime Minister’s political life. Some of them, Irakli Garibashvili, for example, were candidates during the 2012 parliamentary elections.
TI Georgia has congregated information from the asset declarations regarding the public officials who had previously worked in the following companies and organizations related to Bidzina Ivanishvili:
- JSC Cartu Group - 100% shareholder of Kartu Bank - whose beneficial owner is Bidzina Ivanishvili’s son, Uta Ivanishvili;
- Cartu Bank - the bank is 100% owned by Uta Ivanishvili;
- Elita Burji Ltd – a construction company associated with Bidzina Ivanishvili and owned by an offshore registered entity;
- Burji Ltd. – a company associated with Ivanishvili and owned by an offshore registered entity; the company’s registration address coincides with the location of Cartu Bank’s central office;
- Non-profit association ATU- registered at the same address as the location of Cartu Bank’s central office;
- Charity foundation Cartu – a foundation founded by Bidzina Ivanishvili; it is located at the same address as Cartu Bank’s central office;
- Agro Cartu Ltd - registered at the same address as Cartu Bank’s central office and owned by an offshore registered entity;
- Channel 9 – a TV company in possession of the former Prime Minister’s family;
- Global Contact Consulting JSC – a satellite company whose shareholders include Bidzina Ivanishvili's brother, Alexander Ivanishvili (1.23%).
Because many of these companies are owned and registered offshore, it is impossible to identify their owners, but their links with Ivanishvili are identified by different sources.
Under the current legislation, only persons holding official positions are obliged to file asset declaration. Subsequently, the present blog cannot fully reflect the number of persons recruited in the public service from the companies affiliated with Bidzina Ivanishvili.
Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili, according to his 2012 asset declaration, was General Director of Charity Foundation Cartu, Director of the Georgian Dream Ltd, and a member of JSC Cartu Bank’s Supervisory Board; Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development Giorgi Kvirikashvili held the position of the General Director of JSC Cartu Bank; Health Minister Davit Sergeenko was head of Sachkhere Medical Center financed by Bidzina Ivanishvili; Acting Minister of Interior Vakhtang Gomelauri had for years been employed in Bidzina Ivanishvili’s security service; Minister of Regional Development and Infrastructure Nodar Javakhishvili was General Director of Cartu Bank and Cartu Group; Deputy Minister of Agriculture Iuri Nozadze was General Director of Agro Cartu; and Deputy Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development (now Vice Mayor of Tbilisi) Dimitri Kumsishvili held the position of the Director of Cartu Bank.. Also, Head of the Chancellery of the Government of Georgia Maya Tskitishvili was Management Director in Cartu, the latter being registered at the same address as Cartu Bank.
Ministry of Internal Affairs
In addition to the Minister of Internal Affairs himself, 5 other officials within the Ministry worked in the companies affiliated with Bidzina Ivanishvili. Director of the State Security Agency Mirian Mchedlishvili headed Cartu Group’s Control Department, while his deputy Giorgi Dvaladze was head of Economic Security Division in Cartu Group’s Control Department; Operational and Technical Department Director Avtandil Tabunidze was a special-purpose machinery engineer in Cartu Bank and Burji Ltd.; Head of the Minister's Office Maia Usanetashvili used to work at Cartu Bank; Head of Logistics and Material Support Agency of Financial-Economic Main Division of the Personnel and Organization Support Department Sergo Janelidze worked in ATU association, Burji Ltd, and Elita Burji Ltd; Chief of Ivanishvili’s Security Service Anzor Chubinidze was appointed Head of Security Special Service.
Ministry of Agriculture
As in the case with the Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Iuri Nozadze, Deputy Director of the LEPL Laboratory of the Ministry of Agriculture Anna Gulbani and Acting Director of the LEPL Agricultural Scientific Research Center Levan Ujmajuridze used to work in Agro Cartu Ltd.
The Ministry of Finance
Acting Head of Revenue Service Administration Department, the Ministry of Finance’s LEPL, Giorgi Pataridze was head of Cartu Group’s Financial Service, while Acting Head of the Customs Department of the Revenue Service Vladimer Khundadze headed the International Freight and Customs Formalities Department in ATU and Burji Ltd.
Ministry of Health
According to his asset declaration filed in November 2013, Noe Kinkladze was Acting Director of the LEPL Social Service Agency. Previously, he worked as director of Burji Ltd. Based on the declaration of the same year, his son, Dachi Kinkladze, worked as a lawyer in Cartu Bank and was appointed as an Advisor 1 in the Ministry of Finance. The 2014 asset declaration, however, lists Dachi Kinkladze as Deputy Head of the LEPL International Relations Department of Revenue Service.
Ministry of Education
International Relations Manager in ATU association Tamar Kitiashvili became Acting Deputy Head of the Professional Education Development Department; Channel 9 TV program host Nato Asatiani was also appointed Acting Head of the Public Relations Department at the Ministry of Education and Science.
Karlo Sikharulidze, Head of the International News Service at the TV Company Channel 9 was appointed Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Italy and Permanent Representative of Georgia to the UN international organizations located in Rome
Tbilisi: Goderdzi Todadze, Acting Head of Lilo, Samgori district government territorial unit, was Marketing Manager at Elita Burji Ltd. His wife worked in the same company.
The government of Adjara Autonomous Republic: Archil Khabadze, AAR Government Chairman was Director of Cartu bank branch; already former Minister of the Autonomous Republic of Abkhazia Avtandil Dzagania, according to the 2013 asset declaration, worked as Business Development Manager at Elita Burji Ltd.
Sachkhere: Tamaz Nadiradze, Sachkhere Municipality Council Chairman worked as a cashier in Cartu Bank and ATU association; former Governor Ivane Goshadze was a foreman at ATU association; Benjamin Palavandishvili, former architect of the Design Service at Elita Burji Ltd is now head of Spatial Arrangement, Architecture, Construction, and Supervision Department at Sachkhere municipality.
Other municipalities: In 2013, Paata Abramishvili, Acting Governor of Marneuli municipality served as an Elita Burji driver. The asset declaration filed in November 2013, however, lists Merab Topchishvili as Marneuli Governor; Tariel Tutarashvili, Cartu Bank’s Kutaisi Branch Director was appointed Acting Governor of Zestaponi in 2013 and became Governor in 2014; Ioseb Vanishvili, Gori Municipal Council Commission Chairman was a specialist at Cartu Bank’s Economic Division; and Paata Kokhreidze, Head of the Georgian Dream Majority MPs Fraction in Samtredia worked as a Samtredia municipality coordinator for Global Consulting JSC.
Governors and their Deputies: Guram Macharashvili , Acting Governor in Gori, Kaspi, Kareli, and Khashuri municipalities worked as Deputy Head of the Legal Department in Cartu bank, while his superviser, Zurab Rusishvili, served as manager of Cartu bank’s Gori service center and the central service center; Nugzar Kipiani, Mtskheta –Tianeti Governor, worked as an advisor to the General Director of the TV Company Channel 9 in 2011-2013; Paata Khizanishvili. Governor of Bolnisi, Gardabani, Dmanisi, Tetritskaro, Marneuli, and Tsalka municipalities as well as the self-governing city of Rustavi, had worked at Cartu Bank and Cartu Group for years.
Georgian National Communications Commission (GNCC)
In 2014, Kakha Bekauri, former director of TV Company Channel 9, was appointed as a member of the GNCC; his wife, Eka Beridze, worked as a program presenter in the same company.
This year, Parliament elected a new member of the GNCC, Giorgi Fruidze, whose wife Natia Lazashvili also worked as a presenter on Channel 9 and now works in the Government Administration.
We have compiled a list of officials and their family members who were employed in the companies related to Bodzina Ivanishvili which can be found at the following link.
1 After the publication was made, we were contacted by Dachi Kinkladze, who explained that he worked as an advisor for the LEPL International Relations Department of the Revenue Service in 2013.