GEO

New candidates for GNCC leadership: no apparent conflicts of interest

15 January, 2014

The government and the President recently agreed on the three candidates for a vacant leadership position in the Georgian National Communications Commission (GNCC). TI Georgia took a look at public records to determine if past private sector activity of the candidates might result in apparent risks of conflicts of interest.

The President now has to submit these shortlisted candidates – Kakha Bekauri, Tamaz Inashvili and Sergo Shavgulidze – to the Parliament, which then within two weeks will have elect one of the candidates to join the 5-member board of the telecom and broadcasting regulator. As before, we took a look at the background of the candidates in order to detect any potential conflicts of interest which undermined the credibility and perceived independence of the regulator in the past.

This is the third attempt for the Parliament to finally fill one of the two currently vacant top-level positions at the GNCC. After amendments to the Law on Broadcasting made in the fall (which TI Georgia and GYLA had advocated for), stricter requirements are now in place for new candidates – they have to have ten years of work experience, including three years in a leadership position, and hold an MA or equivalent degree in a field relevant to the work of the regulator, such as economy, law, business administration, public administration, telecommunication or journalism.

More transparent process

This time, the president’s administration has published not only the names of the shortlisted candidates but also their CVs and the documentation submitted by the 23 candidates who applied for the position (among them only 3 women). This improved transparency allows for better scrutiny of the shortlisted candidates by the public and has improved the transparency of the process. Media.ge discusses whether all three candidates have the professional and academic background required by law.  

TI Georgia looked at public records of private sector activity of the shortlisted candidates and did not find any apparent risks for conflicts of interest if the candidate were appointed to the GNCC leadership. The candidates have not made party donations and their companies have not won any major government tenders.

The three shortlisted candidates

Kakha Bekauri, a mathematician, has worked in the management of several broadcasters. He held in leadership positions at the Georgian State/Public Broadcaster (2000–2002 and 2003-2005). In between, he was CEO and a partner of the TV channel Mze. More recently, he worked as the CEO of Maestro (20010-2011) and of TV9 (March to December 2012).

Bekauri owns a non-operational broadcaster, LTD Skhva Arkhi (Other Channel), which he registered in 2012. He also owns shares in a supermarket, Ori Nabiji (25%), and in Retail Properties Ltd (25%). In 2009 and 2010, Bekauri served as the director of Rustavi Media Management Company owned by Erosi Kitsmarishvili, a former co-owner of Rustavi 2.

Tamaz Inashvili, a lawyer, works for the Georgian Water and Power LLC, the privately owned water supplier for Tbilisi. He has previously worked for the Georgian National Energy and Water Supply Regulatory Commission, the energy and utilities regulator, and, earlier in 90’s, held high positions at the Ministry of Energy and the State Chancellery.

Inashvili holds 17% of GIG 2007 Ltd, a company that has had no changes in its public records since late 2011, suggesting that might be non-operational. His business partner in the company is Mukhran Gulaghashvili, currently a deputy State Minister for Diaspora Issues.

Sergo Shavgulidze, an electronic engineer, currently heads the department of frequency management at the GNCC. He is also a professor at the Georgian Technical University and has a solid academic background. He does not appear to own or hold official positions in any companies.

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Author: TI Georgia
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