Updated at 2:51 p.m.
The wealthiest man in the country of Georgia has hired Patton Boggs to lobby for him in the United States.
Businessman Bidzina Ivanishvili is using the firm to advocate for him on "[i]ssues related to banking," according to a lobbying registration report filed with Congress on Thursday. He owns Cartu Bank in Georgia and is a board member of Rossiyskiy Kredit Bank in Russia. Ivanishvili's net worth is $6.4 billion, half of Georgia's gross domestic product, according to Forbes, which placed him on the cover of its annual billionaires issue that came out this week.
Patton Chairman Thomas Boggs Jr., partner W. Caffey Norman and associate Matthew Oresman, as well as of counsels Graham Wisner and Laurence Harris, are handling the account. The lobbyists didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. Patton spokesman Elliott Frieder didn’t have an immediate comment.
He hired BGR to “[p]rovide strategic counsel and facilitate communications with U.S. government officials,” according to the firm’s lobbying registration report. The lobby shop is receiving $25,000 per month from Ivanishvili, a filing with the U.S. Justice Department shows.
Parry Romani is lobbying on “[p]ro Democratic elections in the Republic of Georgia,” while National Strategies is providing “[o]utreach for the Georgian Dream political movement and presenting its platform for prosperity, democracy, freedom and accountability in Georgia,” according to congressional records. The firms have yet to disclose how much Ivanishvili is paying them.
Ivanishvili last year unveiled Georgian Dream to bring together opponents of the country’s president, Mikheil Saakashvili. The billionaire is looking to run in the former Soviet republic’s parliamentary elections in October and become prime minister. But first he has to regain his Georgian citizenship, which the country took away from him shortly after he announced his plans to launch the political movement.
Georgian authorities ruled that a French passport he holds voided his citizenship in the former Soviet republic. The country doesn’t allow multiple citizenships. The billionaire has said he will renounce his French citizenship.
Last year, Georgian police also confiscated “several million dollars and euros” from Cartu Bank and questioned people over suspicions of money laundering, Bloomberg reported.
“We look at the upcoming parliamentary election in Georgia as a turning point,” Ivanishvili wrote this year in an open letter to President Barack Obama. “We need a government which is accountable, which enjoys both foreign and domestic legitimacy. One which will prove a predictable and reliable partner for our allies in The West.”