Consensus Has Been Reached Authorities soften the law
22 March, 2012

The Law on Political Unions of Citizens will not contain the term “Related Person” anymore. The law will now apply only to the people with stated electoral intentions but not the political ones. Accordingly, parties will not lose electoral registration even if they violated the law and citizens would not be arrested anymore for requesting a favor from a political party. Finally, the fine for financial violations has been reduced from the original tenfold amount to five times the size of the donation in question.

 

These are main achievements of non-governmental and media organizations who have been engaged in month-long talks with the Authorities in the framework of “It Involves You” campaign. One of the most problematic questions was connected to the controversial term “Related Person”, a red line beyond which all the restrictions and prohibitions of this law were entering into force. Most importantly, effects of the law were becoming more and more insolvable due to ever so increasing number of people being subjected to the scrutiny of the Chamber of Control. Restrictions established for parties will also be applied to physical persons in case of multiple violation of the law or if the sum in question exceeds 30 thousand Lari.

As a Majority representative Pavle Kublashvili noted, the main idea of the law will not be altered. In other words, the responsibility defined by the law will remain for all the faked acts and pretensions that aim at evasion of restrictions set forth by the law.

The law will have an extra provision to enable the Chamber of Control demand a financial report from a person if the Chamber has proven grounds to believe that this person belongs to a circle of people with stated electoral aspirations and documented history of violations. However, no party would be stripped of the electoral registration for violating the Law on Political Unions of Citizens. In addition, sanctions for absence of financial transparency will be softened.

Among various sanctions, the current law envisages a penalty for parties that accept or cover up financial or material donations by ten times the amount of the donation. The non-governmental sector and MPs agreed that the size of the penalty would be only five times the amount concerned. Yet, in case of the repeated violation, the Chamber of Control has the right to evoke this tenfold fine. Let us remind our reader that the Chamber of Control used the law against the billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili three times already.

At the same time, it was decided that gift requests will not be punishable by law anymore. Acceptance of gifts of no more than 100 Lari will be fined via administrative code, while larger gifts would be processed via criminal code. The latter case envisages up to 3-year long imprisonment. According to the non-governmental organizations, the ruling party rejected their proposal to remove a specific article from the law which establishes the 500 thousand Lari ceiling for party donations made by those physical persons who derive their entire or a part of income from a single source. By law, yearly threshold for financial and material donations per physical person per party is 60 thousand Lari. As for legal persons, they are simply denied such things at all.

Tamar Chugoshvili, Head of GYLA, explained, in such cases the party would have to return the donation to the donor. However, the latter will not be punished for such violations. The Chamber of Control would have to instantly forward the protocol of this violation to a city court for examination. The Chamber will have to act in the same way in cases of arresting property of a party, physical or legal person, including their bank accounts.