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According to the statement of the Main Prosecutor of Georgia, Irakli Shotadze, the institute of plea bargains has become more refined and transparent whilst the cases of using fines as a punitive measure when striking plea bargains have decreased. "In the past few years the usage of fines as a punitive measure in plea bargains has decreased drastically… The state budget received a total of GEL 60 million from plea bargains in 2009, GEL 96 million in 2010 and GEL 100 million in 2011. In 2014 the number was down to GEL 22 million whilst in the first nine months of 2015 the contribution to the budget was just GEL 15 million."

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took interest in the accuracy of this statement.

It should be pointed out that similar statistics, probably based upon Mr Shotadze’s statement, have often been used by members of the Georgian Dream coalition as well. During his speech at the session of the Parliament of Georgia, the Georgian Dream MP, Shota Khabareli, stated: "The money received by the state budget from plea bargains during the office of the United National Movement amounted to about GEL 100 million annually whilst today this number has decreased to GEL 15 million."

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addressed the Ministry of Finance of Georgia in order to obtain information about the money received by the state budget from plea bargains in the period from 2006 to 2009. According to the information received from the Ministry, the income from plea bargains is not calculated separately but counted together with the income from other types of sanctions (fines and penalties) as provided for by the Criminal Code of Georgia. In addition, the response letter of the Ministry made it clear that the income from plea bargains was not recorded in a separate article of the budget in 2006. Hence, it is impossible to get information about the money received by the budget from plea bargains in 2006.

In 2007, budget income from fines and penalties as determined by the Criminal Code of Georgia amounted to GEL 49.6 million, dropping to GEL 45.6 million in 2008 but showing a growth trend in the period from 2009 to 2011.

Chart 1:

 Budget Income from Fines and Penalties Determined by the Criminal Code of Georgia

image001 Source: Ministry of Finance of Georgia

Budget income from fines and penalties reached its maximum in 2011, amounting to GEL 82.4 million but has been on the decrease since 2012 and amounted to just GEL 30.6 million in 2015.

Basing upon the statistics at hand, we can definitively conclude that budget income from plea bargains never reached GEL 100 million in the period from 2007 to 2012. The fact that the overall amount of income from fines and penalties has been dropping since 2012 enables us to presume that the amount of money received from plea bargains has been dropping as well; however, the state budget data make it impossible to state specific numbers and calculate the amount or rate of decrease.

In March 2013, the Institute for Development of Freedom of Information (based upon the statistics of the National Bureau of Enforcement) published data about the amounts of money transferred to the state budget as a result of plea bargains from 2009 to 2012. According to these data, the overall amount of money received by the state budget from these transactions amounted to GEL 140 million. The largest amount of money received by the state budget from plea bargains was GEL 51 million in 2011. Despite the fact that budget income from plea bargains has been increasing since 2009, the actual numbers are still significantly different from those stated by Irakli Shotadze. In the period from 2009 to 2012, the amount of money transferred to the state budget as a result of plea bargains never reached GEL 100 million.

Table 1:

Money Transferred to the State Budget as a Result of Plea Bargains

Year Money Transferred to the State Budget as a Result of Plea Bargains (GEL)
2009 8,040,391.81
2010 42,361,459.28
2011 51,009,763.78
2012 38,627,586.89

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also took interest in how the situation changed from 2013 to 2015 and also requested information about plea bargains in this period from the Prosecutor’s Office. According to the information provided by the Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia, they also do not calculate the money received from plea bargains separately. We also addressed the State Bureau of Enforcement on 28 January 2016 on this same issue; however, we have not yet received the requested information.

As additional information it is worth mentioning that the incumbent government often used to accuse the previous government of filling the state budget with money received from plea bargains. The income part of the state budget amounted to GEL 6.4 billion in 2011 whilst income from penalties and fines as determined by the Criminal Code of Georgia equalled GEL 82.4 million, or just 1.3% of the budget income. The same figure was even lower, just 1% in 2012. Hence, plea bargains could not have been the main source for filling the state budget.

Conclusion

According to the information of the Ministry of Finance of Georgia, the income from plea bargains is not calculated separately but counted together with the income from other types of sanctions (fines and penalties) as provided for by the Criminal Code of Georgia. State budget income from these sanctions amounted to GEL 49.6 million in 2007, GEL 45.6 million in 2008, GEL 51.7 million in 2009, GEL 72.6 million in 2010 and GEL 82.4 million in 2011. These numbers have been on the decrease every year since 2012 and amounted to just GEL 30.6 million in 2015. Hence, the money received from plea bargains (which was included in these numbers) has never been GEL 100 million. According to the information obtained by the Institute for Development of Freedom of Information, the largest amount of money received by the state budget from plea bargains was recorded in 2011 and amounted to GEL 51 million.

It should also be noted that state budget income from sanctions (fines and penalties) as determined by the Criminal Code of Georgia (which also includes the amount of money received from plea bargains) has been decreasing since 2012 which indicates that the amount of money received by the state budget from plea bargains has also been decreasing.

FactCheck concludes that Irakli Shotadze’s statement is MOSTLY FALSE.