The failed appeal of two Israeli entrepreneurs in a high-profile bribery case is raising questions about fairness in Georgia’s judicial system, as well as the confidence of foreign investors.
Ron Fuchs and Ze’ev Frenkiel were arrested in 2010 on charges of attempting to bribe Deputy Finance Minister Avtandil Kharaidze. Their purported motivation for offering the bribe was to get the government to pay out a $98 million international arbitration award to Fuchs and a Greek partner, Ioannis Kardassopoulos, made to them by the World Bank’s Washington, DC-based International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID).
Some critics, however, contend that the Georgian government set up Fuchs and Frenkiel on the bribery charge in order to avoid paying the $98 million arbitration judgment -- a sum that amounts to roughly 28 percent of Georgia’s budgeted expenditures for 2011.
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Molly Corso is a freelance reporter based in Tbilisi.