(Read the full article on civil.ge)
Anonymous offshore ownership of companies registered in Georgia contributes to “elite corruption” in the country, Transparency International (TI) Georgia says in a study, CIVIL.GE reported.
The watchdog argues that the Georgian Government has not taken any steps to compile a register of the real owners of the companies registered in offshores, despite a 2016 pledge made at the Anti-Corruption Summit in London.
TI Georgia reckons that offshore ownership could benefit Government officials attempting to sidestep the laws and retain their stakes in businesses. Offshore ownership could then enable companies owned by these officials to partake in the state-funded projects, privatization, and public procurement deals, according to TI Georgia.
The study uncovers companies fully or partially owned in offshores that have purchased public properties through direct privatization in 2012-2020, and fifteen that have received the property through a state auction. Watchdog estimates the overall worth of the assets at GEL 77 million (USD 24.5 million), excluding those estates that were put up for a symbolic price.
In one of such auctions, the watchdog highlights, Abastumani 2019 LLC purchased three state-owned assets in Georgia’s southern town of Abastumani. The company is owned by Limestone Finance International, registered in Panama, and allegedly linked with Georgian Dream founder billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili, according to TI Georgia.