Ivanishvili’s Companies – Public Officials’ Talent Pool Three Years Later
The analysis of asset declarations and biographies of public officials has demonstrated that the trend of appointing former employees of Bidzina Ivanishvili’s companies to important positions in the public sector continues.
On 22 April 2015, Transparency International Georgia published a study about the ties that persons elected/appointed to leading public service posts had with former Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili’s companies. The study revealed based on public officials’ asset declarations that “at least 38 public officials used to work for a company linked to Bidzina Ivanishvili” while “in case of 14 public officials, their family members were employed by these companies”. While not a violation of the law, the trend of Ivanishvili’s company employees moving to high-ranking positions “casts doubts on whether the principle of selecting public officials is a meritocratic one and further validates the assumption about Ivanishvili’s informal influence on the government.”
The goal of this study is to update the information published in 2015. Within the framework of this study, the public officials who had ties with Bidzina Ivanishvili’s companies were selected from the asset declaration database. This time, the study covers up to 40 public officials.
Since 2015, there have been at least 17 new cases when persons who had previously worked for Ivanishvili’s companies were elected/appointed to various posts, and another nine cases when such persons were elected/appointed to new positions within the public sector. Also, at least in nine new cases, public posts were assumed by the persons whose family members are employed by Ivanishvili’s companies.
New Cases of Employing Persons who Previously Worked for Ivanishvili’s Companies in the Public Sector After 2015
Davit Matikashvili, Georgian Dream – Democratic Georgia MP and deputy chairman of the Parliamentary Legal Issues Committee, held various positions in Cartu Group and Cartu Bank, JSC for almost 16 years. Prior to the 2016 Parliamentary Elections, he was the head of the Legal Department at Cartu Bank, JSC. He was the head of the Legal Department at Cartu Bank, JSC in 2015-2016 and deputy director of the same department in 2014-2015. In 2008-2014, he held the position of the head of the Regulations Department of the Foreign Relations Directorate of Cartu Bank, JSC; before that, starting from 2000, he worked as a lawyer at various positions in Cartu Group, JSC and Cartu Bank, JSC.
Georgian Dream – Democratic Georgia MP Endzela Machavariani was the chief producer at the GDS TV Company, linked to Bidzina Ivanishvili’s family, in 2014-2016.
Georgian Dream – Democratic Georgia MP Irakli Beraia held various positions in Cartu Bank in 2004-2016. For example, prior to becoming an MP, in 2013-2016, he was the director of the Centralized Administration Department at Cartu Bank. In 2013-2016, he was the director of the Centralized Administration Department at Cartu Bank, JSC, while in 2018-2013, he was the head of the Loan Administration and Methodology Department and deputy director of the Credit Department at Cartu Bank, JSC. In 2004-2008, he held the positions of a credit manager and the head of the Loan Administration and Methodology Department.
Supreme Court Judge Mzia Todua worked at Cartu Bank, JSC in 2006-2015. Prior to assuming the post of the Supreme Court judge, she held the position of the Legal Department director at Cartu. In 2012-2015, she was the director of the Legal Department at Cartu Bank, JSC, in 2007-2012 – a member of the Supervisory Board of Cartu Bank, JSC, and in 2006-2012 – the deputy head of the Legal Department and the head of the Legal Department of the Legal and Logistical Service at Cartu Group, JSC.
Irakli Tutarashvili, first deputy head of LEPL State Insurance Supervision Service, worked in various capacities at Cartu Insurance Company, LLC in 2008-2014.
On 30 August 2018, on Mamuka Bakhtadze’s order, Mikheil Dundua was appointed the head of the Revenue Service. Prior to that, he was the deputy minister at the Ministry of Labour, Health and Social Affairs – director of LEPL Social Service Agency. In 2015-2017, Mikheil Dundua was a consultant at the 20/30 programme at GDS TV Company linked to Ivanishvili’s family.
Georgian Public Broadcaster (GPB)
GPB General Director, Vasil Maghlaperidze, was the general producer of GDS TV Company’s 20/30 TV Programme in 2014-2016. In 2017, he was elected the General Director of the GPB. Ia Antadze, who worked as a producer of 59 Seconds TV Show on GDS, became his advisor. Today, Ia Antadze has her own project at the GPB.
Nodar Chichinadze, director of the Finance and Administration Block of LEPL Public Broadcaster, was a financial consultant at GDS in 2014-2015, later becoming the head of the Economic Policy Department of Tbilisi City Hall. His name is linked to the suspicious privatization by Tbilisi City Hall of 29 ha in the recreational zone adjacent to the Botanical Garden which, eventually purchased by a company with ties to Bidzina Ivanishvili.
Among those hired by the GPB, there are: Eka Shonia, planning editor of the GPB, who was the head of the GDS Information Service; Maka Tsintsadze, former presenter of the 20/30 TV Programme, who now hosts the Aktualuri Tema Programme on the GPB; former GDS producer Ramilia Alieva, who is the head of the Diverse Georgia project on the GPB; Irina Dekanoidze, editor of 2030.news, is now the web editor of the GPB, and so on.
Deputy director of Tbilisi Development Fund (N(N)LP founded by Tbilisi City Hall) in the direction of management and development of rehabilitated areas Imeda Nikuradze, was acting deputy head of LEPL Architecture Department of Tbilisi City Hall in 2016-2017. Before that, in 2015-2016 he held the position of the head of administration of Elita Burji, LLC before that.
Aleksandre Togonidze, head of the Urban Development Service of Tbilisi City Hall, whom the Council approved for this post on 17 August 2018, worked in various positions at Burji, LLC, Association ATU and Elita Burji in 2015-2016.
Mamuka Mumladze, head of the City Transport Service of Tbilisi City Hall, has held this position since 2016. Before that, he worked as the first deputy general director of Tbilisi Transport Company, LLC and, in 2015-2016, was the head of the Transport and Mechanization Service at Bidzina Ivanishvili’s companies Burji, LLC and Association ATU.
The Tbilisi Council member from Georgian Dream, Tinatin Nibloshvili, was a legal analyst at the 20/30 TV Programme on GDS in 2015.
Another Georgian Dream member of the Tbilisi Council, Irakli Zarkua, was an expert-analyst at the 20/30 TV Programme on GDS in 2015-2016.
Former Marneuli Mayor Temur Abazov was a manager and the head of the Marketing Department at Bidzina Ivanishvili’s company Elita Burji in 2007-2015. The former mayor of Marneuli was detained on 13 June 2017. The Prosecutor’s Office charged him with degrading or inhumane treatment committed in a group by a public official or a person of equal status. According to the Prosecutor’s Office, after Elchin Alakhverdiev verbally insulted Temur Abazov’s wife on social network, the former mayor of Marneuli physically abused him and “forced him, under a threat, to urinate into a cup and wash his face with the urine”. On 26 July 2018, Rustavi City Court remanded Temur Abazov in custody. He is facing imprisonment for the term from five to 10 years.
New Positions Assumed After 2015
Guram Macharashvili was the deputy governor of Shida Kartli in 2014-2016 and, since 2016, is an MP from Georgian Dream – Democratic Georgia. In 2001-2014, he held various positions in Cartu Bank. For example, in 2010-2014, he was the deputy director of Cartu’s Legal Service.
Sulkhan Makhatadze, who was the head of the Chiatura Municipality Administration in 2012-2016, procurement manager at Burji, LLC and Association ATU in 2006-2012, and is currently an MP from Georgian Dream – Democratic Georgia.
Archil Khabadze was the chairman of the Government of the Autonomous Republic of Ajara in 2012-2016, worked in various capacities at the Batumi branch of Cartu Bank; he has been an MP from Georgian Dream – Democratic Georgia since 2016.
Irakli Karseladze has been the first deputy minister of regional development and infrastructure and chairman of the Roads Department since 2018. Prior to that, in 2014-2018, he held various leading positions in the companies linked to the Georgian Co-Investment Fund (GCF) founded by Ivanishvili (including the GCF’s partner and subsidiary companies). In 2013-2014, he was the head of the Administrative Department at the Government Administration.
Shalva Tadumadze, whom Parliament elected Chief Prosecutor in July 2018, held various positions at the Government Administration since 2012. Prior to that, before winning the 2012 parliamentary elections, Shalva Tadumadze was Bidzina Ivanishvili’s lawyer.
Khatuna Paichadze was a media advisor at Cartu Bank before assuming the post of the head of the Public Relations Department at the Ministry of Regional Development and Infrastructure in 2015-2017.
Grigol Liluashvili has been deputy head of the State Security Service since December 2017. Prior to that, he was an MP and a deputy mayor of Tbilisi. Before joining the civil service, Grigol Liluashvili held various high-ranking positions in companies linked to Bidzina Ivanishvili since 2008. For example, Liluashvili was general director of:
- Cartu Mshenebeli, LLC in 2008-2013;
- Burji, LLC in 2013-2014;
- Old City Development, LLC in 2014-2016;
- Chairman of the Cartu Bank Supervisory Board and general director of Cartu Group in 2015-2016.
Beniamen Palavandishvili has been the mayor of the Sachkhere Municipality since 2017. In 2014-2017, he was the head of the Service for Spatial Arrangement, Architecture, Construction and Supervision at the Sachkhere Municipality Administration. Prior to that, in 2005-2014, he worked as an architect at Elita Burji, LLC.
The cases reviewed indicate that the trend of appointing persons who worked for Bidzina Ivanishvili’s companies to the leading positions in the public which was shown by the study published in 2015 still continues. As Transparency International Georgia noted in its previous study, this trend casts doubts on the principles of selecting public officials and points at Ivanishvili’s undue influence on the government.
The blog was prepared with the financial support of the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida)