The Prosecutor’s Office announced on August 9 that it will charge Nika Gvaramia, former director general of Rustavi 2 TV, Georgia’s most-watched television broadcaster, over abuse of power.
In a statement released on August 9, the Prosecutor’s Office said that Rustavi 2 TV suffered a GEL 7.3 million loss in 2015 by reason of Nika Gvaramia, who “abused power and did not act honestly, within legal interests of the television.”
It also said that in January 2015, Nika Gvaramia, on behalf of Rustavi 2 TV, struck a sham deal with the company Inter Media Plus, owned by his friends, granting it the right of commercial ad placement. The Prosecutor’s Office said that Gvaramia did not demand the company to pay money in due time, “thus, enabling his friends to accumulate large amounts of money received from ad placement on their company’s account, instead of paying it to the TV channel.”
“As a result, during the 2015 reporting period, declared damage caused to Rustavi 2 TV amounted to GEL 7.3 million. During the same period, the profit gained by Inter Media Plus amounted to GEL 8.6 million,” the Prosecutor’s Office said.
It also said that the investigation was launched on July 20, 2019, based on the complaint by Nino Nizharadze, former 9% shareholder in the TV company, about the TV channel’s management allegedly committing a crime.
The Prosecutor’s Office also noted that investigation has been launched under article 220 of the criminal code of Georgia, involving abuse of power and punished by imprisonment for a term of three to five years.
Commenting on the matter on his Facebook page, Nika Gvaramia slammed the entire process as “shameful.”
Nika Gvaramia was dismissed as director general of Rustavi 2 TV on July 18 after the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled that there has been no breach in fair trial guarantees in Rustavi 2 ownership dispute.
The Court also ruled “to discontinue” suspension of the enforcement of the Supreme Court’s decision of March 2017, which granted the ownership rights of Rustavi 2 TV, to its former co-owner Kibar Khalvashi.
Shortly after the ECHR ruling, Kibar Khalvashi was registered as the new owner of the TV company, who later replaced Nika Gvaramia by his lawyer, Paata Salia.