“I Am Prohibited To Divulge Information”
08 December, 2011
“I Am Prohibited To Divulge Information”

On what conditions has the President pardoned the Israeli Businessmen?!

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili pardoned the Israeli businessmen Roni Fuchs and Zeev Frenkiel. His decision came after the appeals of the Israeli Government and personally Israeli President.

 

According to the Ministry of Justice, the agreement reached on 29 November 2011 by the Georgian Government with Tramex International Inc is beneficial for the country. Namely, the official Tbilisi ended a years-long dispute which stemmed from the 3 March, 1992 illegal decision of thenadays

Georgian Government (it was the same dispute which Roni Fuchs brought to the London Court of Arbitrations and subsequently won it to much distraught of the Georgian Government). The Ministry of Justice explains that the State Company Saknavtobi concluded a self-inflicting agreement with Roni Fuchs and Ioannis Kardasopoulos, representatives of Tramex International Inc. The agreement gave exclusive rights to the Company Tramex International Inc over the gas and oil infrastructure that existed in the country at the time. In one year, with the illegal help of the Georgian Government, the same company went further to gain 30-year long exclusive rights over not only existing but also future oil pipelines. For all these lucrative gaines, the company did not pay a penny to Georgia. Even more, it did not fulfill the contractual obligations either.

However, in 1996 the Government established Georgian International Oil and Gas Corporation and gave it the exclusive right of managing Georgian oil and gas infrastructure. Naturally, Tramex International Inc disputed the move and went to both Georgian courts and international arbitration. The international arbitration resolved that Georgia had to pay 98 million US dollars to Roni Fuchs and Ioannis Kardasopoulos, owners of the Tramex International Inc. Later the amount further increased to 110 millions due to interest rates. By now, the Georgian Government managed to end the long-standing legal fight. It has to pay only 1/3 of the original sum and thus saved 70 million US dollars in the State budget.

Before this solution was reached, at some point the matter had transformed into an international scandal. The Israeli businessmen were invited to Georgia in October, 2010 by personal invitation of Georgian Prime Minister but were instead arrested on charges of offering a bribe to the Deputy Minister of Finances. The Georgian court sentenced Roni Fuchs and Zeev Frenkiel to respectively 6.5 and 7 years of imprisonment. This move spoiled Georgian-Israeli relations. In vain Israeli President and Foreign Affairs Minister asked Saakashvili to release the Israeli businessmen.

Archil Kbilashvili: I do not know the preconditions which led the Georgian President to make such a decision. He was not involved in the negotiations. I can only say that few days before the arbitration dispute was to be started in London I received a request from the London office of our legal team that I should not make any public statement on the London process.

Q: According to the Ministry of Justice, the Georgian Authorities have to pay only 1/3 of the original sum thus saving 70 millions to the country. It seems the Israelis gave up 70 millions?

A: This is exactly the topic about which I am prohibited to reveal the information. So I cannot either confirm or reject what you say. Nor can I tell you anything about truthfulness of what the Ministry of Justice claims.

Q: Did the Israeli businessmen appeal to the President to pardon them?

A: They did so earlier but the President did not pardon them at the time. As for the new appeal, I am not aware of it. They have not admitted any crime either. The pardoning procedure is based on two conditions: the first is when a person has served half of the prison term and repents his or her crime and the second is when the President uses its discrete right and pardons him or her without any repentance of the latter. In our case, the President used the discrete right. I was contacted by the Chief Prosecutor’s Office. They asked me to attend the process of Roni Fuchs’ release from the prison. The Israeli Ambassador was also there. Meanwhile, a private plane arrived from Israel. It was sent by a friend of Roni Fuchs. A doctor was waiting for Fuchs on board to check his health status. The procedures at the Ksani ended at around 4 pm. We went directly to the airport. In parallel, Frenkiel too was freed from the Gldani prison. He was brought to the airport by the department officers at 5pm. Both ascended the plane and flew away. I cannot convey their emotions to you. Fuchs looked exalted. It was as if he was born again. He could not wait to enter the plane.

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