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Mortal Combat for the Rustavi Metallurgical Plant20.11.2009 | 18:23
The foreign investor reproached the Georgian government for its inability to protect private property. On the background of endless groaning of functionaries on how Georgia needs investments the indifference to the situation of the Rustavi Metallurgical Plant is unclear. The director of the British company «Thames Steels» that used to own plant assets made a declaration on the violation of legal owners' rights and on complicity of Georgian courts with criminal organizations.
The Georgian authorities helped criminals take away the shares of the Rustavi Metallurgical Plant from its legal owners. This was declared by Thomas Blake, CEO of the British company "Thames Steels" (Thames Steel UK Limited) during his recent press conference in Tbilisi.
He said that the JSC «Kartuli Poladi» («Georgian Steel») and «Tudji XXI» («Cast Iron 21») were transferred to the «Kolkhi Business Corporation» creditor company.
They did not manage to sell them at an auction, as nobody ventured to buy disputable assets. Right after the bidding that was held on 4 November by the executive office of the Ministry of Justice the enterprises were given to the creditors.
Blake states that the company's shares were collected illegally. «The Georgian court helped a criminal group with its decision not allowing «Thames Steels» to provide legal and management control over its assets in Georgia. At the same time the court supported the enforcement process that was performed against our holding company in a non-transparent, unfair and unfounded way», - noted Thomas Blake.
The British company has already addressed both President Mikhail Saakashvili and Prime Minister Nika Gilauri asking for help, but these requests remained without response. «Unfortunately the government is focused only on attracting investments but is not worried about their protection», stressed a representative of the British company in Georgia.
In his words, now they are destroying the property of the Rustavi Metallurgical Plant, machines are taken away as scrap metal, spare parts and raw materials are sold.
According to Blake, the problems with the managing team of the plant started after the order of the British company management on the dismissal of Joseph Key, member of the Supervisory Board.
According to the data of the «Business Georgia» portal, «Thames Steels» owns the «Energy and Industry» LLC, which, in its turn, owns the «Kartuli Poladi» and «Tudji XXI» JSCs.
GeorgiaTimes asked the economic expert of «Georgian Investment Group» Dietrich Muller to comment on the situation at the plant.
According to him, the story of the Rustavi plant is another example of illegal appropriation of assets of the now-deceased Georgian oligarch Badri Patarkatsishvili.
For some time this enterprise inherited by Georgia from the Soviet times stood idle. Then it changed a few managing companies under which it worked very badly.
In the end, the plant that was already divided into several small enterprises was bought by one of the companies of the oligarch Badri Patarkatsishvili, a Russian citizen. «He invested a lot into its restoration: 200-300 million dollars. Export of its products was resumed, debts were repaid to workers (though not all of them - ed.)», - said Dietrich Muller.
But then, as is known, Patarkatsishvili became an oppositionist and in autumn'2007 after a charge on the preparation of a coup d'état was forced to leave the country. «When he left for London, Patarkatsishvili's cousin Joseph Key made the property over to himself and became a full owner of the plant», explains Muller.
It should be noted that chronologically it coincided with the purchase of the "Energy and Industry" company by the British investor Thames Steel UK Limited. In December'2007 the Englishmen paid 70 million dollars for it. In his interview to «InterpressNews» Thomas Blake did not specify who they bought the assets from, just noting that it was a «company related to Badri Patarkatsishvili ».
During the period of the Rustavi Metallurgical Plant management by Key's team wage arrears were accumulated. As a result, in October of this year the enterprise employees organized a protest action and demanded the issuance of official certificates confirming the wage arrears.
It should be noted that not all small enterprises in the territory of the metallurgical complex declined. Thus, in November the Indian company JSW Steel opened a reinforcing steel production works on the basis of the Rustavi Metallurgical Plant. For this occasion Rustavi visited even Mikhail Saakashvili.
«When I became a president, I promised the Rustavi workers that I would not be quiet until the Rustavi Metallurgical Plant resumes working. And now an enterprise has been opened here», he boasted.