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Protesters Rally against Probe of Omega Group

Chief Prosecutor claims evidence of Omega’s
links with contraband were found. 

A group of journalists and one part of civil society organizations, as well as a group of businessmen and opposition parties rallied today to protest against the police probes of the media sources owned by the Omega Group, a firm suspected in a large-scale illegal cigarette import and tax evasion.
The participants of the rally accused the authorities of mounting pressure on businessmen and media. The police could not find anything illegal in the office of the Iberia television.

In the morning of February 19, the police together with the employees of the General Prosecutor’s Office launched search operations at the offices of the Omega Group.

Prosecutor General Irakli Okruashvili said today that the Omega Group, which is owned by MP Zaza Okuashvili and her wife Nato Chkheidze, who is also a parliamentarian, is accused of 12 million Lari ($5,4 million) tax evasion.

Both Zaza Okruashvili and Nato Chkheidze refuse the accusations and claim that the allegations are politically-motivated.

The Omega Group owns Iberia TV, news agency Media News, newspaper Akhali Epoka, a printing house and a BMW Service Center. However, the main business of the firm is import of cigarettes. 

According to the unofficial reports the firm allegedly was a financial force behind the Adjarian leader Aslan Abashidze’s party Revival Union. The Interior Minster of the Adjara Autonomous Republic Jemal Gogitidze, who is one of the leaders of the Revival Union, said that the campaign against the Omega Group is politically-motivated.

Co-founder of MagtiCom Ltd. communications company Gia Jokhtaberidze, who is son-in-law of ex-President Eduard Shevardnadze, today held a news briefing and also expressed protest regarding “the government’s pressure on businessmen.”
Gia Jokhtaberidze was summoned by the General Prosecutor’s Office on January 26 and February 17 for interrogation. The General Prosecutor’s Office reports that the company has “definite problems with the state budget.” 
“The Prosecutor’s Office failed to find any facts of tax evasion or misappropriation of state funds,” Gia Jokhtaberidze said on February 19.

MagtiCom Ltd. is the Georgian-American joint venture, which started operating in Georgia in 1997. The company was founded by Magti Ltd, owned by Giorgi Jokhtaberidze and Telcell Wireless of America, owned by the Metromedia International Group. Magti was the third company having entered Georgian telecommunications market.

This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)


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