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The Fuchs Case Against Investments2011-04-07 14:56
Mikheil Saakashvili never misses an opportunity to remind of a wonderful investment climate he has created in Georgia. Still, despite all his efforts, foreigners are not in a hurry to invest in the country's economy. The ruling clan is ready to lure investors from Uzbekistan. Now, however, even tenuous hopes for Uzbek millions are doomed to never come true: the verdict against two Israeli businessmen Ron Fuchs and Zeeva Frenkel confirms that Georgian courts defend interests of the authorities.
On April 1 the city court of Tbilisi sentenced Ron Fuchs to seven years' imprisonment and a GEL 500 thousand fine for a bribery attempt to deputy finance minister Avtandil Kharaidze. Zeeva Frenkel that as the prosecution claims acted as a mediatory was awarded 6.5 years of prison and a GEL 100 thousand fine. Georgian politicians view this decision as the victory of justice and demonstration of impartiality of the country's judicial system. Leader of the parliamentary majority Petre Tsiskarishvili immediately announced that Georgia does not want businessmen like Ron Fuchs and Zeeva Frenkel. Looking at their example all entrepreneurs who plan to come to Georgia to bribe and then extort money from the state had better relax and stay at home".
Let us leave the overly zealous deputy responsible for his words that the country does not need representatives of foreign businesses, particularly Ron Fuchs that has wide connections in the higher political circles of Israel: it is not incidental that even president of Israeli Shimon Peres defended him against Mikheil Saakashvili. But the phrase that the businessmen came to Georgia to extort money from the state is beyond any criticism. Why would they extort if they have full right to claim! Apparently, the parliamentarian forgot that under the verdict of the the World Bank's International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) Georgia must pay USD 100 mln to Ron Fuchs. It seems the deputy of the pro-presidential party does not consider it important to remember the opinion of the court that Saakashvili and his sidekicks are helpless to influence. The verdict of the city court of Tbilisi is a completely different thing. At the time of the proceedings state officials openly pressed for a guilty verdict against the Israeli businessmen.
Any businessman, a person or an investor that will enter a corrupt scheme or try to bribe a state official will be punished accordingly", - PM Nika Gilauri stated before the verdict was passed. He was not confused by the fact that the crime should first be proved in court. Judging by all, Georgian leaders go by "presumption of guilt" for businessmen. The most astonishing thing here is that the head of government was right and the two businessmen were really condemned. It's a pity PM and his ministers seldom demonstrate such extraordinary far-sightedness in governing the country.
Even supposing that representatives of the authorities suffer memory failure and don't remember the ICSID's verdict, there is one man directly responsible for protecting interests of businessmen against state structures - Georgia's business ombudsman Georgi Pertaya. However, as it turns out, the electoral amnesia is widely spread among representatives of the Georgian establishment, and Georgi Pertaya was quick to support the biased verdict.