In a lengthy interview with the Georgian edition of the Entrepreneur magazine, published on January 11, Bidzina Ivanishvili, former ruling party chair who had freshly announced his departure from politics, spoke about his ongoing and intended charitable activities.
The interview came, as the news broke that some significant assets were passed December 30 and 31, 2020 to the Cartu Foundation – an international charity fund established by Bidzina Ivanishvili in 1995, which is run by his close associates and is solely based on contributions from his family.
The asset transfers to the foundation include:
- 100% of shares in Cartu Bank, previously owned by the joint-stock company (JSC) Cartu Group whose ultimate individual shareholder was Bidzina Ivanishvili’s son, Uta Ivanishvili,
- Full control of Cartu Insurance (with 88,45% of its shares belonging to Cartu Bank).
- Sizeable construction companies Burji and Elita Burji – previously owned by Ivanishvili-associated offshore company Vanity Overseas Limited (LTD) (based in the British Virgin Islands) and UK-based Ringold Finance LTD – were also handed to the foundation.
Property assets moved to the Cartu Foundation include:
- Assets that previously belonged to Cartu Group in Tbilisi.
- Part of the Business Center, an eye-catching glass residence of Bidzina Ivanishvili above the Sololaki hill in Tbilisi.
- Property owned by JSC Didveli and JSC Bolnisis Tuphi in the regions – both co-managed by Ivanishvili’s close associates.
- Sea View Resort LTD in Batumi, which was handed to the Cartu Foundation from its earlier owner, Panama-based offshore company Limestone Finance S.A.
- Laguna Vere property – an acclaimed open-air Soviet-era swimming pool in central Tbilisi, currently neglected and out of use.
Company assets include:
- Georgian Tourism Development Foundation LTD – previously owned by Panama-based JSC Frankston International S.A – and the assets in its ownership.
- Tourism Development Foundation owns among others, Tbilisi City LTD, Sololaki Hills LTD, Sololaki Rise LTD, Tabori Resorts LTD, and Georgian Eco Transport LTD, all of these are the parts of the Panorama Tbilisi – the ambitious and controversial multifunctional project still under construction which is going to significantly alter the outward appearance of the downtown Tbilisi and the old part of the capital city.
- Other companies owned by the Tourism Development Foundation – now transferred to the Cartu Foundation – are Business Development LTD, Seaside LTD, Black Sea Resorts LTD, and Black Sea Riviera LTD – all implementing hospitality projects or owning properties in Georgian seaside resorts, including Mtsvane Kontskhi – ‘Cap Green’ in the Adjara region where Ivanishvili’s pet-project, a sizeable Botanical Garden is located, and the Paragraph seaside hotel in Shekvetili, Guria region.
- With the Georgian Tourism Foundation, Cartu Foundation also acquired 51% of shares of Tsisartkela LTD – which was created to reconstruct a mountain resort in Abastumani, in the Samtskhe-Javakheti region of Southern Georgia.
More asset transfers to follow
Ivanishvili claimed that his capital did not grow over his time in politics. He contradicted the data regularly published by Bloomberg and Forbes, which estimates the value of Ivanishvili’s net worth at USD 4.8 billion. Ivanishvili said his estimated assets are at USD 1,5 billion, including the ones now passed to the Cartu Foundation.
The remaining part will too be gradually transferred to the foundation, leaving his family with USD 200 million in free assets at their disposal. According to Ivanishvili, his children would have to settle with as much not to lose motivation “for creating new things, for self-actualization, and self-development.”
Ivanishvili also promised to transfer his notable modern art collection to Cartu Foundation either directly as art pieces or in funds after they have been sold.
Ivanishvili confirmed in the interview that Cartu Foundation had already spent USD 3 bln in charity. Additionally, outside the scope of the charity foundation, he estimated having given up about USD 1 bln in total for political expenses, social entrepreneurship/ economic projects, and allowances for a large circle of close acquaintances.
The former PM mentioned that he had earlier voiced his intention to give up to 90% of his property for social and public purposes.
The “most valuable” among his charitable acts, however, was his participation in politics, something that put not only his property but also his family members at risk, Ivanishvili said.
Ivanishvili asserted that his participation “made it possible to remove from power the regime [meaning the United National Movement Government – Civil.ge] that was based on the oppression of people and lay solid foundations for the irreversible, peaceful and democratic development of the country.”