Two Israeli businessmen were sentenced to imprisonment in Georgia Friday for allegedly offering seven-million-dollars-worth of bribes to the Georgian deputy finance minister, Army Radio reported.
Ron Fuchs was sentenced to seven years in jail, and his partner, Zeev Frenkiel, will serve six-and-a-half years, and each will have to pay thousands of dollars worth of fines, the report said.
The businessmen allegedly attempted to bribe the Georgian minister to expedite the international arbitration which would have mandated that the Georgian government pay Fuchs a sum of roughly 100 million dollars..
Frenkiel is an owner of a company that has been involved in a range of business ventures in Georgia. Media reports say Fuchs has an interest in a company called Tramex, which had oil and gas interests in the country. He was awarded an international arbitration ruling that Georgia had violated its obligations when it rescinded his interest, and ordered the Georgian government to pay $100 million in damages.
The two men were arrested in the Black Sea town of Batumi while meeting with Georgian Deputy Finance Minister Avtandil Kharadze.
The Georgian government released via television footage allegedly showing a meeting between Fuchs and Kharadze in which Fuchs offered the Georgian deputy finance minister a bribe in exchange for the Georgian government dropping its appeal of the ruling.
Fuchs and Frenkiel said that they are innocent of the accusations against them.
Israel attempted to reason with Georgian authorities, the report said, claiming that the businessmen were set up so that the government would not have to pay them the 100 million dollars and should be released.
Fuchs and Frenkiel's families are reportedly furious about their love ones' pending incarceration and fines, saying "we did not expect the punishment to be so severe. We are talking about a drill that was set up to get the two of them [Fuchs and Frenkel] to give up the money that Georgia owes them."
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