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On 1 October 2015, the Leader of the United National Movement, Giga Bokeria, talked about the events unfolding around Rustavi 2. "We know that Khalvashi filed a complaint on the orders of Ivanishvili but if he wants to get Rustavi 2 back, he must know what the essence of the seizure of property is – it is preventing the outflow of money. With this agreement, money was entering Rustavi 2 and its condition was being improved. By what logic does Khalvashi want Rustavi 2 to be bankrupted? The whole point of this process is to neutralise Rustavi 2," said Mr Bokeria.

FactCheck

took interest in the accuracy of this statement.

On 5 August 2015, Tbilisi City Court, in connection with the complaint filed by businessman, Kibar Khalvashi, ruled in favour of the seizure of Rustavi 2’s property whilst the rights of the company’s directors and shareholders to take obligations on behalf of the company or make changes to the company’s charter, among others, were taken away. Rustavi 2’s management stated that the company is facing financial problems as a result of this ruling and that its capacity to fully function is under risk.

On 29 September 2015, an agreement was signed between representatives of Sakartvelo TV, possessing a 51% share of Rustavi 2, and businessman, Dimitri Chikovani, according to which Mr Chikovani was to buy 100% of Sakartvelo TV and make an investment of several million in Rustavi 2 in return.

According to the statement of Kibar Khalvashi’s lawyer, Paata Salia, a fictional agreement was made which aimed to bankrupt Rustavi 2 and artificially load it with financial obligations. Ultimately, if Mr Khalvashi became the owner, the investor would demand the money back and bankrupt Rustavi 2.

It should be pointed out that the agreement between Sakartvelo TV and Dimitri Chikovani puts obligations upon one party only; namely, the buyer with the obligation that USD 6 million would be invested in Rustavi 2’s capital according to a certain schedule (USD 3 million before December 2015 and the remaining USD 3 million no later than 1 February 2017 and only in the case of necessity). According to this agreement, Rustavi 2 is not subject to any obligations and so the possibility of the investor demanding the money back is excluded. In addition, by the decision of the court it was already prohibited for Rustavi 2 to subject itself to any kind of obligations which means that the threat of taking on excessive obligations could not have been on the agenda.

According to the Civic Procedure Code, the seizure of property is one of the measures for ensuring a court claim. Based upon the decision of a seizure, an owner is prohibited from managing his property – selling it in any form or mortgaging or signing agreements for renting or leasing it. Any agreement on seized property, therefore, would be considered void.

Hence, it is impossible for a company to be bankrupted during a legal dispute as it cannot lose the property which has been seized nor can it take on additional obligations. However, if it finds itself lacking money for its proper functioning, it might be left with only the previously seized property after the dispute’s resolution. It is clear that the company’s functioning and especially the growth of its capital should be in the best interest of the claimant.

According to Giga Bokeria, Kibar Khalvashi is not an individual claimant in this case and he is backed by the state itself which is represented by Bidzina Ivanishvili. He believes that the actions of both the Public Register and the court attest to this as they have made it impossible for Rustavi 2 to attract more capital.

In the context of the state hindering Rustavi 2 from doing its work, a fact has emerged concerning Tamaz Urtmelidze, the judge in charge of the Rustavi 2 case, which has caused serious public outcry. Specifically, the Prosecutor’s Office commenced proceeding against Mdinara Giorgobiani, Mr Urtmelidze’s mother, based upon Article 118 of the Criminal Code for committing assault comprising wilful minor damage to the health of another. The incident happened between Ms Giorgobiani and her son-in-law, Valerian Silagadze, on 7 January 2014 with Mr Silagadze recognised as the victim of the assault on 24 September 2015 and Ms Giorgobiani convicted on 12 October 2015. According to the statement of the Prosecutor’s Office, it adhered to the well-established criminal policy practice in such cases and gave the family members one year and eight months to reach a reconciliation. Since the parties failed to reconcile in this period, Mr Silagadze was recognised as the victim of the aforementioned assault comprising wilful minor damage to his health on 24 September.

The statement of the Prosecutor’s Office also features statistical data which show that in 2014, criminal proceedings were commenced only on 11% of the investigations started according to Article 118 of the Criminal Code whilst in 2015 this number was up to 15%. The issue raising doubts herein is that if criminal proceedings were not commenced on 88%-90% of such cases, then why was this specific case necessary and, further, why does it coincide with Tamaz Urtmelidze’s making an important decision about a very well-known case. The proceedings against Mr Urtmelidze’s mother were seen by Rustavi 2 and a certain part of society as tool for the state to leverage the judge during the legal dispute between Kibar Khalvashi and Rustavi 2.

Conclusion

According to the ruling of Tbilisi City Court, Rustavi 2 was prohibited from taking any kind of action which would result in losing its property or taking any kind of obligations on behalf of the company as it was involved in a court dispute. In addition, the financial investment required as a part of the agreement between Dimitri Chikovani and Sakartvelo TV provided for the obligations of only one party – the buyer – and excluded any kind of demands from Mr Chikovani towards Kibar Khalvashi in the future. Hence, the conditions for Rustavi 2 could only improve as a result of the aforementioned investment.

FactCheck concludes that Giga Bokeria’s statement is TRUE.