Deeper Look

U.S. Sanctions | Who is Otar Partskhaladze?

On September 14, the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC)  imposed sanctions on Otar Partskhaladze, considered by the media and watchdogs as one of the close associates of the oligarch, and ruling party patron, Bidzina Ivanishvili. The State Department stated that Partskhaladze was designated for his efforts to influence Georgian society and politics in cahoots with the FSB officer.

What did the U.S. State Department Say?

The U.S. State Department release reads: “FSB Officer [Aleksander] Onishchenko likely assisted his associate Partskhaladze in obtaining a Russian passport and possibly Russian citizenship. Partskhaladze has fully taken on Russian identity and routinely travels to Russia. Onishchenko and the FSB have leveraged Partskhaladze to influence Georgian society and politics for the benefit of Russia. Partskhaladze has reportedly personally profited from his FSB connection.”

Partskhaladze: “Dirty Campaign”

On the following day, in a written statement submitted to Rustavi 2 TV, Otar Partskhaladze claimed that the decision on his sanctioning was based on assumptions rather than facts. Partskhaladze said the United National Movement, the Georgian Dream’s nemesis, was behind the decade-old “dirty campaign” to discredit him, which brought about the U.S. sanction. In his written statement, Partskhaladze also noted that he left the civil service ten years ago and had no connections with state institutions since then.

The ruling Georgian Dream initially used the same line to downplay the links with Partskhaladze, but promptly changed tack. GD MPs and officials rallied behind Partskhaladze and demanded proof from the U.S. State Department to confirm any wrongdoings.   

Sanctions Implications

According to the US  State Department, “all property and interests in property of the designated persons that are in the United States or possession or control of U.S. persons are blocked and must be reported to the Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).  Additionally, all individuals or entities that have ownership, either directly or indirectly, are blocked 50 percent or more by one or more blocked persons.  All transactions by U.S. persons or within (or transiting) the United States that involve any property or interests in property of designated or otherwise blocked persons are prohibited unless authorized by a general or specific license issued by OFAC or exempt.  These prohibitions include making any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services by, to, or for the benefit of any blocked person and receiving any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services from any such person.”

The National Bank of Georgia announced that it will apply the sanctions and said Partskhaladzes assets in Georgia are frozen and transactions limited. GD Chair Irakli Kobakhidze said such decisions were “against the Constitution” as it encroached on the presumption of Partskhaladze’s innocence.

Who is Otar Partskhaladze?

The “family”

Otar Partskhaladze is a member of Bidzina Ivanishvili’s inner circle. As the oligarch himself confirmed, Bera Ivanishvili (Bidzina Ivanishvili’s rapper son) is a godfather to Partskhaladze’s grandchild. It is also known that Partskhaladze is close friends with Ucha Mamacasvhili, Ivanishvili’s nephew, who is rumored to have significant influence on business. Even so, Ivanishvili publicly repeated several times that “Partskhaladze is not my friend,” but that of his family.

Before aligning himself with Ivanishvili, Partskhaladze served in the Ministry of Interior, and then in progressively responsible positions at the Finance Ministry’s investigative service, informally known as the financial police – agency responsible for probing into financial wrongdoings. He was the head of the agency until 2013. The current General Prosecutor, Irakli Shotadze, is known as Partskhaladze’s close friend and ally. He served as Partskhaladze’s deputy at the financial police, as well as during his brief tenure as General Prosecutor.

Short-lived prosecutor

Partskhaladze’s sudden rise to public prominence was linked to his appointment as the General Prosecutor in November 2013. He was officially nominated by then-Justice Minister Tea Tsulukiani and confirmed by then-Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili.

Upon his appointment, PM Garibashvili described Partskhaladze as an “effective manager” who would staff the prosecutor’s office with young, motivated professionals.

Shortly after his appointment, the media raised questions about the validity of his lawyer’s diploma, which, according to the official record, Partskhaladze got at the tender age of 19. The formal explanation said young Partskahaldze “skipped the class” at school.

The UNM and watchdogs also reported that Partshkaladze had a criminal record in Germany, involving conviction in burglary and theft. 

In a written statement, Partskhaladze rejected these allegations, saying that he was found guilty by the court in Germany for having a “verbal altercation” with a policeman and not for burglary and theft.  But the scandal raged on, and after spending less than six weeks in office, Otar Partskhaladze was forced to resign.

During his short-term tenure as General Prosecutor, Partskhaladze was implicated in removing from prison and pressuring Vano Merabishvili, Georgia’s former UNM-era Interior Minister. While the official investigation didn’t confirm the incident, in November 2017, the European Court for Human Rights (ECHR) called the reports of Merabishvili’s late-night questioning during his pre-trial detention in 2013 “sufficiently convincing and therefore proven.”  

After the resignation, then Minister of Justice Tea Tsulukiani said she did not know Partskhaladze before she recommended him to become the General Prosecutor, and that someone with a criminal record “had no moral right” to serve in that position.

Scandal after scandal

Since leaving the post of Prosecutor General, Patrskhaladze went into business, but he continued to be involved in high-profile scandals, followed by criminal charges and court hearings.

According to the local anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International-Georgia‘s report, immediately after leaving office in 2013, Partskhaladze’s family owned two properties with a total area of 226 sq.m., at the end of 2018, his family owned 24 properties totaling 7,900 sq.m. He is currently residing in an immense mansion on Tbilisi’s outskirts.

The same organization also cites the journalistic investigation suggesting that the state-owned joint-stock company “Georgian Railways” made an exclusive deal with “Lukoil Georgia” (which was headed by Partskhaladze), effectively giving him the monopoly for transporting oil products to Armenia through Georgia.

Accusation: Beating the Auditor General

In 2017, Partskhaladze was charged with assaulting Auditor General Lasha Tordia in Tbilisi city center for probing into the former chief prosecutor’s business activities related to the transfer of plots of land in 2016. In 2021, the Tbilisi City Court acquitted Partskhaladze in a physical assault case. Ivanishvili spoke to the media about the incident and said, “Todria was behaving no less aggressively than Partskhaladze.”

Todria has emigrated to the United States and was granted political asylum in 2022, based on the review of facts related to the Partskhaladze case.

Accusation: Racketeering, illegal sequestration

The following year, Partskhaladze’s name surfaced in the so-called Omega tapes scandal and was accused of extortion and racketeering on Bidzina Ivanishvili’s behalf as well as trying to mount a sham funding scheme for the ruling party.

On September 30, 2018, Zaza Okuashvili, founder of the Omega Group, a Georgian business conglomerate, said in an interview that Ivanishvili abused his company’s financial “weaknesses” and extorted money while also trying to take over an affiliated TV company. Okruashvili claimed Partskhaladze was acting on Ivanishvili’s behalf, trying to strong-arm Omega Group.

In doing so, Partskhaladze was accused of incarcerating Levan Kipiani, a go-between with Omega Group, locking him in a basement overnight and threatening him with rape. Visibly shaken, Kipiani soon denied these accusations, and said he collaborated with Okruashvili to stage the tapes and falsely accuse Partskhaladze and Ivanishvili. Kipiani did confirm that Partskhaladze beat him, reportedly being angry when Kipiani swore at him. This was confirmed by Ivanishvili himself in 2018, who said, “you know what the reaction of the Georgian man is when he is being sworn at” and claimed Partskhaladze “regretted” his reaction.


In 2016, Transparency International – Georgia, a watchdog, published its report questioning some shadowy dealings of the Partnership Fund, a state co-investment body. Among these dealings was the plan to build a composite aircraft parts factory in partnership with Israel’s Elbit Systems. Partskhaladze was a major shareholder in Royal Development Ltd., acting as co-investor of the project. As TI-Georgia questioned potential insider trading, Partskhaladze got rid of his shares. The chair of the Partnership Fund, David Saganelidze, said Royal Development was simply “renting the office space” to the project and that Partskhaladze had “no relation” with receiving funding from the Partnership Fund.

In February 2023, TV Pirveli’s journalistic investigation said Partskhaladze obtained Russian citizenship, established the Moscow Brokerage Investment Company, and was offering its clients – fleeing from the aftermath of sanctions – benefits in Georgia, including obtaining permanent residency, work visas, and citizenship through investment.

Russian backing

The traceable links of Partskhaladze with Russia date back to his official involvement with Lukoil, one of Russia’s major oil companies. Nothing much is known about the Moscow Brokerage Investment Company or any other businesses that Partskhaladze may have had in Russia or the “personal benefit” he may have received – as the State Department’s statement says – from his dealings with the Russian security service – the FSB.

Following the announcement of the U.S. sanctions, some Russian officials have spoken in Partskhaladze’s defense.

The chair of the Russian State Duma’s Committee on Commonwealth of Independent States Affairs, Eurasian Integration, and Relations with Compatriots, Leonid Kalashnikov, told Formula TV that Partskhaladze was involved in negotiations aimed at resuming direct flights with Russia and canceling the visa regime for the Georgian citizens. According to Kalashnikov, Partskhaladze is “actively working on humanitarian, economic, and other aspects of Russia-Georgia relations, acting in the interests of Georgia and for the benefit of the Georgian people.”

Senator of Russia’s Federation Council, Gregory Karasin, also supported Partskhaladze, describing the sanctions imposed on him as “discriminatory and totally unfair.”


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