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Questions over the presidential candidate Salome Zurabishvili’s income

10.10.2018

 
Lana Giorgidze

On October 1, for the pre-election campaign, Salome Zurabishvili took a loan of 1 million GEL from Cartu Bank, founded by the former prime-minister and leader of the Georgian Dream party Bidzina Ivanishvili. Information about the loan was published in the report of the State Audit Office. 

The report does not provide information about the bank interests and duration of the loan. The ground of the loan was the Article 56 of the Election Code of Georgia - Financing of an election campaign fund from the State Budget of Georgia. According to the law, an electoral subject that obtains 5% or more of votes in a parliamentary election conducted under the proportional electoral system, or 10% or more of votes in the first round of a presidential election shall receive a one-time amount of not more than GEL 1 000 000 from the State Budget of Georgia to cover election campaign expenses incurred in both rounds. 

Georgian Dream enjoyed their right under the Article 56 of the Election Code in 2016, when they took one million GEL loan from Cartu Bank. The former prime-minister Bidzina Ivanishvili then stated that the political party had financial problems and took a loan; “wealthy man will never take a loan.”

Presidential candidate Salome Zurabishvili is not going to pay the interest to the bank as she believes she will get 70% of votes in the elections. 

“I am not going to pay an interest as I will get not only 10% but 70% of votes. I am independent candidate, Cartu Bank is also independent and I took a loan as an individual. I will not pay the interest of the loan as I will gain much more votes than 10%,” Salome Zurabishvili told media.

The report provided by the manager of Salome Zurabishvili’s election fund Nino Mtchedlishvili to the SAO reads that from September 12 to October 2, 2018 the Georgian Dream supported independent candidate spent 1 890 744 GEL. Among it, 1 438 894 GEL was spent on advertising, 19 625 GEL on salaries, 640 GEL on business trips. From September 12 to October 2, the candidate received donation in the amount of 1, 087 million GEL.

Among donators are physical persons, who donated more than 10 000 GEL to Salome Zurabishvili: Tbilisi City Mayor Kakha Kaladze – 50 000 GEL and Aleksi Ivanishvili, brother of Bidzina Ivanishvili – 45 000 GEL.

Media reported about monetary donations from the doctors of Chachava and Gudushauri maternity houses to Salome Zurabishvili. 

The list of doctors, who donated Salome Zurabishvili’s election fund is the following:
Gudushauri hospital - doctor Lali Begadze of– 6 000 GEL; surgeon Irma Katchiuri – 7 000 GEL; doctor Larisa Melia – 7 0000; doctor Manana Svanidze – 6 000 GEL; Chachava hospital: ultra-sonographer Mariam Gotsiridze – 7 000 GEL; doctor Lika Jajanidze – 5 000 GEL; doctor Nino Akiashvili – 5 000; doctor Fikria Kamladze – 5 000 GEL; gynecologist at Chachava hospital – Nikoloz Ksnelashvili – 8 000; doctor Manana Elisashvili- 8 000 GEL; head of the laboratory at the Chachava hospital Meri Magradze – 5 000 GEL; doctor Lela Chkhikvadze – 5 000 GEL.

Nongovernmental organization Transparency International – Georgia reacted to this fact.

According to the media reportages, in two days the employees of the mentioned medical clinics jointly donated over GEL 100 000 to Salome Zurabishvili. These reportages also tell a story how some doctors were summoned by the clinics’ administration and asked to contribute to Zurabishvili. The money was supposed to be allocated by the clinics and they were only asked to technically participate in this process by providing formal consent. According to the reportages, the doctors were asked to sign some documents and be assured that their personal information would not be publicized; the clinic would technically ensure a transfer money to Salome Zurabishvili’s bank account,” the statement of the TI-Georgia reads.

The organization believes that the State Audit Office should study the mentioned circumstances as we might have a case of third-party donation, which is prohibited by the Georgian legislation. A penalty of the double amount of illegal donation is envisaged for such an action. “We call on the State Audit Office to study the mentioned case and make relevant decisions.”
 
SAO will study the legality of the donations to GD supported presidential candidate Salome Zurabishvili. News Agency Interpresnews was told in the SAO that in accordance to the established procedures, they will appeal the court to study the incomes and bank transactions of the donators.
 
The Audit Office will also study the case of 1 million GEL loan of Salome Zurabishvili in the Cartu Bank.
 
As the press-center told On.ge, the SAO will examine the bank interest into Zurabishvili’s loan and will compare it with the bank interests in other commercial banks. If the bank interest in this particular loan will be lower than in others, it may be evaluated as an unregistered donation.
 
The Presidential Elections are scheduled on October 28, 2018. The citizens of Georgia will elect the president for 6-year term. 


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