Parliamentarians’ links with businesses
Requiring the disclosure of assets held by government officials is a key tool for preventing and discovering corruption and potential conflicts of interest, and corporate ownership information is a key piece of this disclosure. Knowing which officials have stakes in companies can help to identify conflicts of interest and prevent corruption.
Georgia’s newly elected MPs will be required to file asset declarations with the Civil Service Bureau before the end of the year. These asset declarations will likely be closely scrutinized, as there have been indications in the past that companies affiliated with MPs have benefited from government procurement and tax breaks.
However, because MPs are not allowed to serve as the director or as a member of the Board of Directors of any corporation under Georgian law, it is possible that the asset declarations that MPs eventually file will not fully reflect the connections between MPs and businesses in Georgia. We created a copy of the Public Registry database, which contains company ownership and leadership information, in August, and we’ve used that copy to match MPs with the companies they were affiliated with earlier this year. We have also used this tool to link donors to political parties with corporations.
We’ve created a spreadsheet showing the affiliations of current MPs; from it, we can see that there are prominent businessmen serving as MPs for both the majority Georgian Dream and the opposition United National Movement. For example, Gocha Enukidze, owner of IberCompany, which controls the LukOil chain of petrol stations, is an MP for the UNM, and Gogla Zhvania, Georgian Dream MP and brother of the late Zurab Zhvania, is listed as the director of LTD Bossner, which exports alcoholic beverages in cooperation with the German Bossner brand of cigars and cognac. In total, our researchers found that at least 36 MPs have connections to at least one corporation (10 from the UNM and 26 from the Georgian Dream; this number includes affiliations with NGOs as well). This information may no longer be fully up to date because it was gathered in August, 2012, but it should provide a useful point of comparison when MPs make their official asset declarations later this year.