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8 Apr, 2008 12:55

Battle of wills over Georgian billionaire's estate

Georgian tycoon Badri Patarkatsishvili’s estate – the opposition TV station Imedi – is in the center of a big battle. The row is between his widow Inna Gudavadze and mysterious American businessman Joseph Kay, claiming to be the olig

Dubbed the world's richest Georgian, billionaire Patarkatsisvhili died of a heart attack in his mansion in the south of England on February, 12.

Kay, an American citizen who is also known as Kakalashvili, says he is a step cousin of Patarkatsishvili. He claims that the late media magnate appointed him executor of his will in November last year – a time when Patarkatsishvili was involved in a bitter struggle against the Georgian government.

The Patarkatsishvili family's legal team, headed by Britain's former attorney general Lord Goldsmith, says no such will exists and has filed a suit against Kay in New York.

One of the assets at the centre of the row is Imedi TV, which is a pro-opposition channel in Georgia and once the country’s most popular TV station. It was raided and taken off air by Georgian special forces in November. That’s around the same time Kay claims to have been given power of attorney over Patarkatsishvili's assets.

Kay now claims to own the TV station. The Patarkatsishvili family call it nonsense and insist Kay is not even related to them. Patarkatsishvili's sister Mzia Tortladze said they want all the issues to be decided in court.

“Our lawyers are studying the case. We will challenge Joseph Kay's claims to manage our property. He is not a member of our family,” Tortladze noted.

As well as Imedi, once Georgia's most popular channel, other assets that may be worth billions of dollars are at stake. Meanwhile, Imedi TV channel is still off air.