Blueberry of contention – Georgia’s scandal surrounding Vanrik Agro does not subside (Part II)


Blueberry of contention – Georgia’s scandal surrounding Vanrik Agro does not subside (Part II)

07/13/2020

Is everything transparent in the bankruptcy case of Vanrik Agro JSC in Georgia?

EastFruit experts report from Georgia that blueberry plantation AO Vanrik Agro auctioned off. Read the background in the first part.

PROTEST OF FORMER PLANTATION OWNERS

Ramin Papidze, the lawyer protecting the interests of Herakli and Victoria Partzvania, intends to file an application with the Prosecutor General of Georgia in the next 10 days with a request for a quick and effective investigation of the events surrounding Vanrik Agro JSC.

“We have reasonable suspicions that there is an artificial bankruptcy of the company and the subsequent seizure of property, using a corruption scheme, with the approval of top officials of the country’s leadership. A month after the appointment of Alexander Tskhovrebashvili as director of Vanrik Agro, he removed the Spouses of the Partzvania from the Supervisory Board of the company on fabricated documents and replaced him with employees of the Fund. Tskhovrebashvili and the management of the Fund demanded that the company’s regular customers give incriminating evidence against Irakli Partzvaniya in exchange for discounts on the purchase of products.

Under Tskhovrebashvili, repeated facts of property theft occurred, the plantation was purposefully destroyed. In particular, in the midst of the July heat, all irrigation equipment was removed from the plantation, up to 100 ha were plundered (we are talking about seedlings, mulch and irrigation hoses), the main parts of the equipment “disappeared”. However, there was no reaction to the statements of Irakli Partzvania in connection with this to the Partnership Fund and the police and, accordingly, the punishment of those responsible, and this was not accidental. All this time, Irakli Partzvania repeatedly appealed to the management of the Fund with a proposal to redeem the latter’s share, but did not receive any answer. Only the crop, expected in 2018-2019, according to experts, allowed to fully pay off the Fund. And, meanwhile, the company was accumulating debts.

Then the director appealed to the court with a request to initiate bankruptcy proceedings against the company, and this is also a violation: the Georgian law on insolvency proceedings ordered him to first try a rehabilitation program. In addition, if the Partnership Fund agreed that its creditor claim should be covered for 7 years, why didn’t he address this proposal to Partzvaniya before the announcement of all these auctions – a businessman would be quite happy with such a schedule.

It is noteworthy that three days before the announcement of the auction for the sale of Vanrik Agro JSC assets, on June 16, 2020, the Minister of Justice of Georgia Thea Tsulukiani signed order No. 556 on amending the order of the Minister of Justice No. 21 dated January 31, 2011 “On approval of forms, procedure and procedures for conducting a compulsory auction ”, thanks to which Efko, to which the right to a creditor claim was transferred from the Partnership Fund, received the right to pay not the entire price of the acquired property, but only the difference between this price and the size of the aforementioned creditor claim . It turns out that she will pay a penny for Vanrik Agro’s assets.

Interestingly, the Partnership Fund offered to allow Efco to deduct the creditors claim even during the bankruptcy trial, when the procedure for covering payables was approved, but the court refused to approve such a practice. Which was then legalized by order of the Minister of Justice just in anticipation of a specific auction. Such a coincidence is very strange, and only reinforces our suspicions that behind the actions of the Partnership Fund, the police, and the courts are people from the country’s top leadership. Therefore, we will turn to the Prosecutor General’s Office with a demand to investigate the situation around Vanrik Agro, and if it does not start within a reasonable time, we will file a lawsuit in the Strasbourg court. With regard to Irakli Partzvaniya, there is a violation of Article 13 of the European Convention on Human Rights – “Rights to an effective remedy,” said Ramin Papidze to EastFruit.

NEW ASSET OWNER

The Efko company was founded in 2015. Today, a 95% stake in it belongs to the Georgian LLC Agro msoplio (a company with a diversified portfolio), all 100% of which is owned by the Georgian businessman Grigory Morkililadze. The main profile of Efco is the production and sale of blueberries.

In an interview with EastFruit, Efco’s representative Rati Morkiladze said that 3 million 016.7 thousand lari / $ 989 thousand of the 12 million 339.8 thousand lari / $ 4 million 046 thousand recorded at the auction have already been paid by the company in cash. The remaining amount, 9 million 323.1 thousand lari / $ 3 million 057 thousand, is the total amount of requirements for the Vanrik Agro Partnership Fund and Halyk Bank Georgia, which, in accordance with the agreements concluded by Efco with these organizations, will be covered in stages. “If you familiarize yourself with the details of the public auction, you will see that the amount that Efco LLC has pledged to gradually pay includes both the cost of claims and the cost of rights and obligations stipulated by the factoring agreement … Partnership Fund JSC and Halyk Bank Georgia will secured lenders of Efko, – he noted.

As for the assets acquired at the auction, according to Rati Murchiladze, this is 323 hectares of agricultural land (out of 326 hectares of total area) in the village of Laituri, Ozurgeti district, including 93 hectares of blueberry plantation, of which today are economically profitable only 32 ha, as well as other real estate and movable property of Vanrik Agro and also intangible assets.

“Thanks to various agricultural activities carried out by Efco LLC on a blueberry plantation during its lease, it became possible to preserve the GLOBAL G.A.P. certificate available for blueberries. This standard will be respected by the company in the future, ”he said.

Commenting on the Partnership Fund’s statement that he “will continue the blueberry project with the new investor,” Rati Morkiladze said that “the principles of cooperation between the Partnership Fund and Efco are described in an agreement drawn up at the end of a public auction that contains trade secrets,” but noted that “the share will not be transferred to the Partner Fund.”

Speaking about the company’s plans for the next 3-4 years, Rati Murchiladze confirmed that it is planned to develop up to 280 hectares of agricultural land acquired at the auction. At the same time, according to him, whether only blueberries or other crops will be grown on this square is an unresolved issue.

For reference:

The text of the order of the Minister of Justice of Georgia No. 556 dated June 16, 2020 is published on the website matsne.gov.ge. Clause 6 of Article 2 of the “Procedure and Forms of Holding a Forced Auction”, approved by order No. 21 of January 31, 2011, according to the new order, is formulated as follows:

“The winner of the auction (the acquirer of property) must fully pay the purchase price to the deposit account of the National Execution Bureau within 10 calendar days from the end of the auction. In the case provided for in clause 16 of Article 38 of the Law of Georgia on Insolvency Proceedings, the obligation to pay the full price of the property may also be fulfilled by the refusal of the creditor of the amount due in order to satisfy the creditor’s claim. In the case of fulfillment of the obligation to fully pay the price of the property by refusing the creditor’s claim, the purchaser must pay the amount that will cover the statutory payments, as well as the claims of the creditors (except the creditor who refused the claim) in the amount that they they would have received if the price of the property had been fully paid into the deposit account of the National Bureau of Execution. When a bankruptcy manager compiles a bankruptcy report of a debtor, the creditor’s application / written transaction between the creditor and the auction winner (property purchaser) to refuse the claim should be taken into account … ”, the order says, in particular (translation – unofficial).

The document also notes that if the creditor and the winner of the auction are the same person, then a written statement must be submitted by the creditor stating that by refusing the claim he considers that the corresponding part of the price of the property has been paid, if different persons – then a document on the relevant transaction , notary approved.

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