Elita Burji Prefers Stopping Business Rather Than Paying Unfair Fine
26 July, 2012
Elita Burji Prefers Stopping Business Rather Than Paying Unfair Fine

Elita Burji, whose property is under arrest to induce the company to pay GEL 3.4 million penalty for violation of party financing law, finds the arrest unfair and prefers to stop business rather than pay the penalty. 


The movable and immovable property of Elita Burji LLC [a wide profile enterprise implementing construction, projection/design and polytrophic works] as well as its banking accounts are arrested since past week based on court decision of July 14, 2012 that recognized Elite Burji in violation

of the law on party financing for implementing illegal financial contributions made in favor of oppositionist political party Georgian Dream, founded by political tycoon Bidzina Ivanishvili.

Namely, the court based on materials prepared by Control Chamber of Georgia (CCG), found Elita Burji guilty in procurement of two offset machines [lithographic press] that totally cost GEL 679 487.94 in order to provide political entities of Georgian dream coalition  with different items necessary for political party activity like branded T-shirts, caps with the party logos, scarves as well as  to perform some other services that the court recognized as illegal contribution.

Elita Burji claims all service it performed to Georgian Dream was a pure business and the property arrest as well as penalty rate that was defined based on the offset machine value [five-fold of its price] is unfair. Therefore, the company refuses to pay penalty and prefers to halt business until it finds the truth.

Elita Burji has already paid GEL 2.5 million fine for similar misbehavior few months ago when based on CCG claim the company implemented GEL 250 million worth illegal contribution in favor of Georgian Dream for producing painted T-shirts and the court fined the company [on March 15, 2012] by ten-fold sum of the illegal contribution figure. Tengiz Gvazava, Director of Elita Burji thinks this was his mistake for the prior penalty was as unfair as the underway one.

“Very likely since I paid they decided to fill the state budget by penalties. I will not pay anything this time, I prefer to stop the business and face losses rather than pay the unfair fine. If I pay this penalty too they will find more reason to fine me again and it will never end,“ Gvazava said in the interview with Georgian Journal.”

As a result of business-suspension 625 employees of Elita Burji stay workless and the company is supposed to face pecuniary losses and lose part of contracts. Elita Burji’s annual turnover makes GEL 14-20 million and company hoped to hit GEL 22 million this year but due to suspension that very likely will last until the parliamentary election [scheduled in October] is completed Gvazava presumes the loss to average GEL 7-8 million – actually almost trice more than the imposed penalty. Elita Burji tried to find the truth through court to no avail as of yet.

It appealed to the court of appellations on July 16 however the next day court turned down the appellation, Sandro Baramidze, a lawyer of Elita Burji, said. Gvazava plans to go to Strasburg to prove that the company was fined for pure business activity.

“I am a neutral person and businessman interested in profit. All the service I have performed to Georgian Dream was paid and quite expensive,” he said.

According to CCG announcement, Elita Burji is not involved in printing business and undertook this kind of activity for the sake of Georgian Dream. Gvazava swears Elita Burji has always been involved in printing business but it did print just trifler things like tickets, tags, etiquettes etc, not newspapers.

“We never printed any newspaper before that’s true but it was a business project, I charged Georgian Dream by 5% more payment than other printing companies might do, but they most probably avoided having business with Georgian Dream and it came to us. We agreed for payment, there was no free contribution,” Gvazava explains.

According to Baramidze, Elita Burji had all due evidences in the face of contracts and other paper-work to prove that the alleged contribution was a pure business, but the court did not take them into account.

“Moreover, they counted the penalty based on the value of offset machine and not on the value of the product that was produced and sold. That’s like if you enter at restaurant and a waiter gives you free dinner and the owner of the restaurant will fine him not by the price of the dinner but by the price of the restaurant’s cuisine equipment,” Baramidze said.

The court procedures were implemented through violations of the law as it became an usual practice lately: the court announces the hearing on Friday evening handing  a 600-page case to the defending lawyer and holds the court in 48 hours that deprives the lawyer a chance to dig in the affair and get prepared for the court.

According to Lali Taliuri, a lawyer with Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association, this kind of procedural infringements when CCG puts down a protocol on violation of party financing law, sends it to court and court makes hearing announcement in 48 hours, and the convicted side has only 48 hours to raise a counter-claim became a tradition in these few months, which must be changed.

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