Georgian Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze has responded to several allegations of the Omega Group business corporation and stated that the business is trying to avoid its financial obligations to the state budget and a commercial bank.
The business is obliged to meet its financial obligations, as others do. If there are other questions, the law enforcement agencies will investigate such issues,” Bakhtadze said.
The PM stated that ascribing the problems of Iberia TV, which is owned by the Omega Group, to issues of media freedom in the country is an “absolutely irresponsible attitude.”
We have a free media [environment] and Iberia TV’s problems are related to the Omega Group complications, not to the government,” Bakhtadze said.
Minister of Economy Giorgi Kobulia urged the Omega Group to firstly meet its financial obligations worth millions of lari.
Only after can we speak about the Omega Group claims against the state government,” Kobulia said.
The Omega Group has more than 50 million GEL in debt to the state, while its debt to the Bank of Georgia exceeds 84 million GEL.
The business says that under the Georgian Dream leadership its cigarette company OGT suffered $100 million in losses after multinational company British American Tobacco, “which was lobbied by the Georgian Dream government officials”, violated the laws on competition and tobacco control.
The corporation says that they had to take loans to cover their necessary expenses for the corporation’s staff and their dues to the state, however, they failed to meet their financial obligations.
Omega Group says that they appealed to the government in 2017 to have their debt restructured, “but the government ignored the problem” which led to a further increase in financial debt and the interest rate.
Omega leadership also says that former and current top Georgian officials demanded money to solve their issues.