Reply to statement of the State Audit Office - საერთაშორისო გამჭვირვალობა - საქართველო

Reply to statement of the State Audit Office

10 July, 2012



On July 5, 2012, the State Audit Office (SAO) released a statement in reply to a letter titled ‘What are the reasons for imposing fines on Bidzina Ivanishvili?’ which had been published by NGOs Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association and Transparency International Georgia on June 28.1

In the statement, the SAO not only discusses the arguments related to its representative’s speech at the trial and the evidence he  submitted but also tries to find a justification of certain actions of the court and of its decisions by which it exceeded its powers.

The SAO calls the NGOs’ assessment of the decision on imposing fines on Bidzina Ivanishvili ‘quite a bold and loud conclusion’, although, at the same time, it fails to offer any substantiated arguments to cancel out the objective and impartial arguments that we presented.   

1. We cannot agree with the view that ‘the analysis is one-sided or incomplete’ because ‘the interested readers are not provided with information about the position of the administrative body’.  We once again confirm that in the cases related to the imposition of fines on Bidzina Ivanishvili the defense was not given an opportunity to exercise their statutory right – to have a reasonable time frame to prepare for defense, by which the court would have ensured the exercise of the rights of the possible offender, on the one hand, and reinforced the administration of justice on the basis of equality of all individuals before the law and the court, on the other.  

It should also be taken into account that the time when the judicial summons were served on the defense didn’t make for a reasonable assumption that the defense was given a reasonable time frame for preparing the case – judicial summons should be served on the parties or on their representatives in such a way as to give them a reasonable time frame to prepare the case and to appear in court on time.

We think that the motion of the defense for the postponement of the trial was substantiated, because if, due to the complexity and/or volume of the evidence, it is impossible to familiarize oneself with it, it is reasonable to postpone the trial. We cannot agree with the view that the decision of the court to announce a break and to postpone the June 8 session to June 11 points to ‘the court’s desire to examine the case thoroughly, fully, and objectively’ and that ‘the said action gave the party additional time to better formulate its position’.

It is noteworthy that the court’s announcement of a break at the session of June 8 occurred just before the start of oral arguments between the parties, when almost all important stages – including the examination and verification of evidence – had been completed and only the stage of arguments and rebuttals was left. Moreover, in a situation where it took the SAO at least a month to prepare both cases on fines, announcing a break before the stage of oral arguments and postponing the session until June 11 does not provide enough arguments to assess the said action as giving a party additional time for better formulation of its position or for submitting evidence, on the one hand, and is not indicative of the court’s desire to examine the case thoroughly, fully, and objectively, on the other.  

2. The statement of the SAO says that they submitted to the court ‘an entire spectrum of evidence which, in combination, confirms beyond doubt that Bidzina Ivanishvili has made donations through various companies.’ At the same time, the administrative body deemed the NGOs’ analysis as tendentious, noting that the organizations had presented the facts incompletely. In connection with this, we would like to point out that the evidence submitted by the SAO not only ‘fails to substantiate beyond doubt that Bidzina Ivanishvili has made donations through various companies’ but also fails to fully establish the legal link between natural person Bidzina Ivanishvili and the legal entities. It should also be taken into account that the SAO submitted the evidence regarding the establishment of links between Bidzina Ivanishvili and the business companies at a later stage of oral arguments at the court session, after which the court immediately admitted the evidence and enclosed it with the case files.

The evidence cited in the SAO’s statement does not contain a printout from the Registry of Entrepreneurs and Non-Entrepreneurial (Non-Commercial) Legal Entities which would unequivocally confirm Bidzina Ivanishvili’s legal links with the companies mentioned in the case files.

3. As for the issue of granting of motions by the court, we believe that the certificate of registration of political association and business plan of company didn’t constitute ‘quite complex evidence’, as deemed by the administrative body, which would require the judge to go to the deliberation room and spend almost an hour on discussion to make a decision, the more so that later the court admitted all the evidence submitted by the SAO at the stage of oral arguments and enclosed with the case files. These circumstances allow us to conclude that in the given case justice was not administered on the basis of the principle of equality of individuals before the law and the court.

It is also noteworthy that in the statement the SAO does not deny that the court admitted the additional materials that it had submitted as evidence with a delay, although, to justify itself, the agency states that ‘the said materials were not submitted in advance due to the excusable cause that the administrative case was being examined within tight time frames.’ It would probably be fair to point out that, on the other hand, examination of the case within tight time frames was one of the reasons why the defense was not given additional time for familiarizing themselves with the case. Therefore, it is quite logical to conclude that such actions of the court cause damage to its image as an objective arbiter and creates grounds for questioning its objectivity.  

We would like to state once again that our deliberation was based on the processes at the trials, existing evidence, and materials submitted by the SAO which enabled us to state that the court’s decision in the case of Ivanishvili was not based on thorough, full, and objective examination of the case and didn’t correspond with the requirements of law.  

Instead of using its valuable time and resources for ‘exposing the tendentiousness and distortion of facts’ by representatives of the civil society, we think the SAO should be distinguished with high responsibility, rely less on unconfirmed views and assumptions, and use legal arguments for substantiating its position. Moreover, instead of conducting a punitive mission, the SAO should devote more time and resources to raising public consciousness, identifying causes and conditions that stimulate the commission of offenses, and preventing offenses, which will reflect positively on the objectivity of its activity and will definitely reinforce the public’s trust in this agency.

In our turn, we, representatives of non-governmental organizations, welcome the constructive cooperation with the State Audit Office of Georgia which aims to ensure the transparency of this agency’s activities and to enhance the public’s trust in it. In addition, we express our just desire to make sure that the decisions taken by the administrative body are based on evidence obtained as a result of thorough, full, and objective examination of the case and are in exact accordance with the Georgian legislation.