ICC: Large number of foreign businesses have suffered or are still suffering in Georgia
On June 13, ICC Georgia held its 14th Consultative Board Meeting at Biltmore Hotel in a closed working meeting that included exclusively ICC Executive Board, ICC Consultative Board and the Chairs of ICC Commissions.
Fady Asly- Chairman of ICC Georgia gave Introductory remarks and welcomed to the Consultative Board Members. Asly overviewed the degrading Business Climate. Eka Gigauri, Executive Director of Transparency International Georgia overviewed the Realities of the Georgian Judiciary. Aleksadre Meladze- Lawyer of Georgian American Alloys informed the attendees of the chain of criminal events that resulted in a technical expropriation of the shareholders. The presentation was followed by an open Discussion, that included comments, as well as suggestions from Consultative Board Members.
Follows excerpts from the presentation of ICC-Georgia' Chairman Fady Asly to the members of ICC Consultative Board:
"We would like to bring to your attention the very worrying deterioration of the investment climate; since more than a year now, a very large number of foreign businesses have suffered or are still suffering from serious issues crippling their operations that resulted in substantial damage to their businesses and properties. Most of those issues are linked to the courts, to the law enforcers and to the regional governments. For the sake of illustration we will just name a few distressed companies that represent the tip of the iceberg, some of them being our members:
Terabank, Philip Morris, British American Tobacco, KazTransGas, Gardabani Holding, Silk Road Holding, City Park, Batumi Port, Optical Systems Inc, G Paradise, Samih Habib Investments, Georgian American Alloys, Caucasus I Fund, Anka Food Switzerland, Basel Group…
The above companies and many others are of various nationalities and the problems they have faced or that they are currently facing are backfiring terribly on the image of Georgia internationally.
We are glad that the Appellate Court has recently straightened up the crooked decision of City Court in the cases of British American Tobacco and Philip Morris; however this whole episode that was masterminded by Red Directors with the help of “uncontrolled elements” resulted in a very serious blow to the reputation of Georgia abroad. We don’t remember any period in the past twenty years when so many foreign businesses were attacked simultaneously and this worries us A LOT.
What worries us even more is our perception that the government is unable to stop those “uncontrolled elements” from attacking, racketeering, expropriating or paralyzing foreign businesses.
We did hold in the past months a number of meetings with various government officials who promised to “solve” those problems however months and months have passed and most of those problems are still unsolved. We have observed that there are factually two powers in Georgia, on the one hand a positive and constructive power represented by the Prime Minister and by the majority of his ministers and their deputies who work around the clock to improve legislation, iron out hurdles, and promote Georgia, and on the other hand a negative and destructive power represented by “uncontrolled elements” from both in and out of state structures who do not report to the Head of Government and on whom government has no control.
Those are the ones who corrupt courts and law enforcers, who scam foreign businesses, expropriate them, steal their lands and their businesses and there is unfortunately NOTHING that government can seemingly do to stop their destructive activities. All this is happening at a time government, business organizations and international financial institutions are still encouraging foreign businesses to invest in the country; how can we do that with clear conscience when we know that many of those investors will be defrauded by criminal elements and in total impunity?
Shouldn’t our moral obligation dictate us to warn foreign investors looking into Georgia of the dangers associated with their future operations in the country?
Urgent measures NEED to be taken immediately to neutralize those “uncontrolled elements” otherwise the investment climate will deteriorate even further and faster, in which case the International Chamber of Commerce through its worldwide presence will be unfortunately compelled to officially warn foreign investors globally of the risks and dangers of investing in Georgia. "
The ICC Consultative Board is the only body of its kind in the business community in Georgia, consisting of ten ambassadors, three major international financial institutions, and two major international organizations. The purpose of the Consultative Board is to bring together members of the diplomatic and business communities on a quarterly basis to discuss the business and investment climate in the country. The issues raised are subsequently advocated to the government through a multi-pronged approach by the ICC stakeholders to effect positive change in the business and investment climate.