The Parliament considered the draft law on deoligarchization as the last issue of today’s plenary session and adopted it in the second reading with 81 – in favor, 2 – against.
The draft law was edited in April, based on the interim recommendations of the Venice Commission.
According to the draft law, the issue of recognizing a person as an oligarch shall be decided by the Anti-Corruption Bureau instead of the Government. The Anti-Corruption Bureau shall start the procedure of recognizing a person as an oligarch on its own initiative, or on the basis of an appeal from a member of the Government, a permanent member of the National Security Council, the National Bank, the State Security Service or the National Communications Commission.
The Venice Commission published its final opinion on the draft law on deoligarchization earlier today.
According to the Venice Commission, the draft law should not be adopted and there should be no deviation from the “systemic” approach.
The Venice Commission recommends to devise corrective, additional or complementary legislation or measures, which, inter alia, include: establishing and implementing an effective competition policy; strengthening the fight against high-level corruption and the prevention of corruption, in line with GRECO’s recommendations; upholding the transparency of and accountability in public procurement; strengthening media pluralism and transparency of media ownership; further enhancing the anti-money laundering policy, including the transparency of legal persons and arrangements and timely and effective access to beneficial ownership information, in line with MONEYVAL and FATF recommendations; reinforcing rules on the financing of political parties and election campaigns and existing control mechanisms; amending tax legislation.
The Venice Commission underlines that, in order for the above-mentioned system to function effectively, the holistic reform of the judicial system aimed at ensuring its independence, integrity and impartiality, including of the High Council of Justice, fully in line with Venice Commission recommendations, should be relentlessly pursued.
“The Venice Commission underlines at the outset that the danger of the concentration in the hands of a private individual of significant influence over the economic, political and public life of a country without transparency, legitimacy and accountability may exist in virtually any country. Most countries have devised and put in place a set of interconnected legislative, (inter)institutional, administrative, economic and other measures, in order to prevent the disruptive effects on democracy, the rule of law and human rights brought on by the concentration of such influence with the objective of leveling the playing field for all actors in society. Rather than pursuing this multi-sectoral, “systemic” approach, Georgia has chosen to tackle the destructive influence of oligarchization through a different “personal approach”, by preparing a draft law on de-oligarchization. This “personal approach”, as specified by the revised draft law, seeks to identify persons as “oligarchs” through specific criteria, such as wealth, media ownership (etc.), and subjects them to a series of limitations. Despite having been deprived of most of its punitive consequences and limitations in its revised version, the potential political abuse of the revised draft law and a possible arbitrary application of its provisions may still severely jeopardise the rule of law and political pluralism. While recognizing that in the fight against oligarchic influence there is no one-size-fits-all and that in exceptional, extremely critical situations, for example a situation of state capture, radical solutions – such as some measures of a personal nature – could appear to be justified, as a measure of last resort, on a temporary and exceptional basis, the Venice Commission considers that these should be a supplement, not an alternative, to the “systemic” approach”, reads the report.