"Legal absurdity". Lawyer on National Bank of Georgia's decision to unblock ex-general prosecutor's accounts
Lawyer’s comment on National Bank of Georgia
Lawyer Guram Imnadze reacted to the decision of the National Bank of Georgia, saying that “politically (and geopolitically) it is incredibly damaging for a ‘private individual’ acting in the interests of Russia, covering for the government”. According to Imnadze, the government has created an even greater absurdity in legislation.
Following the condemnation by the authorities of the National Bank’s decision to block former Prosecutor General Otar Partskhaladze’s accounts due to U.S. sanctions imposed on him, the National Bank of Georgia amended the rules of the sanctions regime and restored Partskhaladze’s access to the accounts.
According to the statement from the National Bank, for Georgian citizens the sanctions regime can be applied only if a court in Georgia has issued a guilty verdict. On the same principle, the sanctions regime will be applied to a legal entity, the share of which is owned by a Georgian citizen, who has fallen under sanctions.
This change was preceded by a statement by Georgian Dream chairman Irakli Kobakhidze, who called the National Bank’s decision to restrict Partskhaladze’s access to accounts unconstitutional and violating the principle of presumption of innocence.
Guram Imnadze: Georgian Dream has brought the situation with sanctions against Otar Partskhaladze to complete absurdity, and yesterday the National Bank joined it.
Politically (and geopolitically) this decision is incredibly damaging for a “private person” acting in the interests of Russia and covering for the government, but legally the authorities have created an even greater absurdity:
1) Georgia has not officially imposed sanctions on the Russian side, although we have been adhering to the sanctions imposed on Russia by the United States, the European Union and the United Kingdom for over a year now. These sanctions apply to both companies and individuals.
(2) The nature of the sanctions is not exclusively criminal. The United States, the European Union and the United Kingdom often impose sanctions on companies/private individuals without conviction by a court of law.
3) Therefore it was absolutely logical and correct when the Georgian financial sector automatically joined the sanctions that the United States imposed on Partskhaladze.
4) The Georgian Dream leaders’ claim that this violates the constitutionally established presumption of innocence, so the sanctions should not apply to Georgian citizens is absurd for two reasons:
(a) The presumption of innocence is a procedural right and applies in criminal proceedings. As I said, sanctions are not exclusively a criminal measure, so extending them to an individual does not violate any presumption.
b) The Constitution of Georgia extends the presumption of innocence to any person, regardless of whether he or she is a citizen of Georgia or not. If Irakli Kobakhidze’s logic is correct, it follows that the National Bank should have provided new guarantees not only to Georgian citizens, but to any person. Accordingly, assuming that any person close to Putin or Putin himself would have accounts in Georgia, they should not be sanctioned until a Georgian court convicts them (otherwise the presumption of innocence would be violated).
5) Otar Partskhaladze is in a comical and, on the other hand, a very serious situation: on the one hand he is a citizen of Georgia, although by law he does not have Georgian citizenship. On the other hand, the National Bank is looking after his interests, as he is a citizen of Georgia. However, both sanctions and the presumption of innocence apply indiscriminately to citizens of Georgia and other countries.
In short, the situation around this case is becoming more and more complicated, so the government has to take more and more absurd steps”.
- “Georgian security services do not take actions to neutralize Russian influence” – Georgian NGOs
- “That the Prosecutor General of Georgia was an agent of Russia’s FSB is a great misfortune” – President of Georgia
- Ukraine demands sanctions on Bidzina Ivanishvili and his circle
On September 14, the United States imposed sanctions against Otar Partskhaladze. This is related to his business activities and cooperation with the Russian FSB. Before the official announcement of the decision, the media reported that a “Georgian-Russian oligarch” was among those subject to sanctions.
According to the US State Department, the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) worked with Otar Partskhaladze to influence Georgian society and politics in favor of Russia.
In addition, the U.S. State Department statement said that in addition to Partskhaladze, sanctions were imposed on Russian intelligence officer Alexander Onishchenko, who allegedly helped “his accomplice Partskhaladze obtain a Russian passport and possibly Russian citizenship.”
On September 18, it became known that the National Bank of Georgia restricted former Prosecutor General and under U.S. sanctions Otar Partskhaladze’s access to bank assets and financial transactions. All his accounts have been frozen.
As the National Bank explained, the sanctioned person is restricted both in the disposal of funds and in the ability to conduct all types of financial transactions.