Magticom made a statement on the acts of Mr. Kakha Bekauri, the Chairman of the Georgian National Communications Commission.
BMG offers the statement unchanged:
- Since the amendment made to the Law of Georgia on Electronic Communications on 23 December 2017, (reference) the fee for the use of exhaustible resource has been transferred to the account of the Communications Commission, not to the account of the State Budget. The amendment was “justified” with the addition of the Commission’s function to promote the development of media literacy in the society. For the records, as a result of the amendment, the State Budget in 2018, 2019 and 2020 lost for the benefit of the Commission GEL 1 499 775, GEL 3 458 472 and GEL 3 120 111, respectively (the three year-total of GEL 8 078 358). It should also be mentioned that for no earthly reason the Commission has kept the detailed expenditure part of the above amount secret and non-transparent. IDFI, a non-governmental organization, has had to initiate judicial proceedings in an attempt to secure the disclosure of the information. (reference:)
- The Chairman of the Commission has hidden from the general public, the President, the Parliament and the Government of Georgia that by Commission Resolution #8 dated 25 December 2018 (that came into force in 2019), the fee for the use of the number resource allocated for mobile communications services had increased, without any argument or substantiation, by 150% to the effect that the annual fee for a single mobile number rose from 10 to 25 tetri. However, for some reason, neither did this fact find reflection in the Commission’s Report for either 2018 or 2019 (reference).
- By its Decision #455/22 dated 2 August 2018, the Communications Commission founded Media Academy as a non-entrepreneurial (non-commercial) legal entity to promote the development of media literacy in the society and achieve the relating objectives. According to the Charter of Media Academy (Article 5), the activity of the Academy is run and the Academy is represented by the Executive Director who is appointed to and removed from office solely by the Chairman of the Georgian National Communications Commission. The media literacy expenses in 2018, 2019 and 2020 ran as high as GEL 410 438, GEL 2 415 808 and GEL 1 979 053, respectively (the three year-total of GEL 4 805 299). However, no breakdown of these costs is made public or transparent (reference).
- In light of the fact that the specific Media Academy budget and a detailed breakdown of its expenditure part have been kept under wraps, it should be mentioned that Mrs. Eka Beridze (the wife to the Chairman of the Commission) is involved in the specific activities of the above legal entity but as the expenditure part of the entity is for some reason non-public information, the specific terms and conditions of cooperation between the above persons, including the compensation paid to the above person, are unknown. Besides, spending the Commission’s money to promote and advertise her own husband with the slogan “Learn from the Best” seems to cause no discomfort whatsoever to the Chairman of the Communications Commission (reference). He does not seem to think the following provisions of the specific law are any problem. In particular, this is what the law has to say:
Law of Georgia
On Conflict of Interest and Corruption in Public Institutions
Article 2, paragraph 1 – “For the purposes of this Law, the term 'official' includes the following persons: ...
(r) any member of the National Regulatory Commission of Georgia“;
Article 3, paragraph 3 - “'Conflict of interest in a public institution' is the conflict of property or other private interests of a public servant with the interests of a public institution”.
Article 4 – “For the purposes of this Law:
(a) “'family member' is a person's spouse, minor child, stepchild, or a person permanently residing with him/her”;
Article 10, paragraph 1 - “A public servant may not, based on his/her personal interests: ...
(d) enter into a property transaction with his/her family member or close relative as a public servant.
- Any transaction concluded in violation of paragraph 1 of this article shall be void”.
Paragraph 3 – “A public servant may not receive income from an organization that is under his/her official supervision”.
Paragraph 16 – “Unless otherwise provided for by the Constitution of Georgia and the organic law, an official shall be dismissed if:
(a) he/she or a member of his/her family violates the incompatibility provisions under this Law“;
„1. A public servant may not offer or receive any benefit related to the position that he/she holds in state service and/or public service, except as provided for by the legislation of Georgia.
(a) pay attention to any existing or possible conflict of interest;
(b) take measures to prevent any conflict of interest“;
- According to a study conducted by IDFI (NGO), during the pandemics in 2020, the Chairman of the Communications Commission earned a total of GEL 33 000 in bonuses. We do not know how the Chairman of the Communications Commission substantiated the necessity (reason) for his bonus pays but it should be mentioned that according to the tax return for 2020, Mr. Kakha Bekauri earned the spendable amount of GEL 188 585,36 as the Chairman of the Communications Commission and the spendable amount of GEL 4 299 570 from business (reference - Asset declarations filed by public officials: ;reference - NGO IDFI )
- It should also be mentioned that Mr. Kakha Bekauri has failed to provide a full disclosure of his assets in the official’s asset declaration, consequently engaging penalties from the relevant public authority – Public Service Bureau (reference)
Let society, non-governmental organizations and other competent authorities draw proper conclusions on the facts provided above.