Business Activities and Related Violations of Ministers and their Deputies
As of December 2019, the Government of Georgia has 11 ministers and 53 deputy ministers. By using public databases Transparency International Georgia (TI Georgia) has studied business activities of these public officials as well as the practice of mandatory disclosure of their business interests. As a result, TI Georgia identified some violations.
According to the official data, almost half of Georgian ministers and deputy ministers - 29 out of 64 - has commercial interests. It is alarming that most of the ministers and deputy ministers who have business interests (22 out of 29) in some way violated the requirements of the law related to the disclosure of commercial interests and the avoidance of conflict of interest.
TI Georgia's research revealed the following findings related to Georgian Ministers and their deputies:
- In 18 cases, public officials have incompletely disclosed their own or family business activities. This list includes 4 Ministers: the Minister of Infrastructure Maya Tskitishvili, the Minister of Health Ekaterine Tikaradze and the Minister of Environment and Agriculture Levan Davitashvili.
- In 6 cases, public officials have not transferred management rights of their private business shares to another person. This list includes: the Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs Ioseb Chelidze, the Deputy Minister of Finance Giorgi Kakauridze, the Deputy Ministers of Education Shalva Gogoladze and Badri Maisuradze, the Deputy Minister of Defense Juansher Burchuladze and the Deputy State Minister for Reconciliation and Civic Equality Badri Nanetashvili.
- In 4 cases, public officials still hold the position of a director in a private company. This list includes: the Deputy Minister of Defense Juansher Burchuladze, the Deputy Minister of Health Giorgi Tsotskolauri, the Deputy Minister of Education Badri Maisuradze, the First Deputy Minister of Environment and Agriculture Giorgi Khanishvili.
- In 3 cases, public officials (or their family members) hold a share in a company the activities of which are likely to be under the supervision of the relevant Ministry. This list includes the Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs Ioseb Chelidze, the First Deputy Minister of Environment and Agriculture Giorgi Khanishvili and the Deputy Minister of Economy Nino Enukidze.
- In one case, a public official - the Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs Ioseb Chelidze - missed the deadline for submitting the asset declaration.
The existing Georgian legislation on business activities imposes certain restrictions on public officials, for example: they may own a share in a company, but they must temporarily transfer management rights of a share to other person; moreover, during their tenure, they are not allowed to hold managerial positions in any company. The purpose of these restrictions is to prevent cases of conflict of interest.
Part of the restrictions also apply to family members of a public official, for example: an official or his / her family member is not entitled to have a share in an enterprise the activities of which is subject to the oversight of that official or his / her office. The purpose of this restriction is to exclude the conflict of interest when an official can exercise his or her authority to put his/her or his/her family company in a dominant position.
In addition to these restrictions, ministers and their deputies, like other public officials, are required to complete an asset declaration annually, where they fully and publicly disclose property and income received by them and their family members. Asset declaration is an important anti-corruption mechanism that can detect/prevent conflict of interest in public service and monitor the illegal enrichment of officials.
The results of the study indicate that, on the one hand, ministers with business interests and their deputies do not take seriously the issue of conflict of interest and the obligation to fully disclose business activities; On the other hand, the existing systems of asset declaration and its monitoring, both legislation and practice, do not ensure full accountability of public officials.
TI Georgia calls on the Civil Service Bureau to investigate the violations identified in this study and to respond appropriately. In addition, the Civil Service Bureau should make more efforts to improve the system of asset declarations, taking into account existing problematic practices, so that officials could not easily violate the obligation to fully disclose their business activities.
Full information about the business activities of Ministers, Deputy Ministers and their families (as of December 2019) is given below: