DUSHANBE, March 14, Asia-Plus  -- Marouf Oripov, the director general of the Dushanbe-based Tajik-Dutch joint venture M&P, considers himself innocent of the charges he faces.

  The trial of the director general of M&P, which owns a chain of supermarkets Orima in Dushanbe and Kulob, began in Tajikistan''s Supreme Court on March 13.  Proceedings started with the reading of the indictment, which charges Oripov with giving bribe, tax evasion and forgery.

Speaking at the hearing of his case, Oripov noted on March 14 that all charges brought against him are false.  On his business, the M&P top manager said that he has spent more than $10 million over the past decade to launch the enterprise and run his business.    

According to him, his company has had close cooperation with international financial institutions.  “In 2000, we received a loan of $1.25 million from International Finance Corporation and in 2006, we received a loan of $5 million from the European bank for Reconstruction and Development,” Oripov said, claiming that international audit companies were regularly inspecting the company.    

On the tax evasion charge brought against him, he said that the company was launched as joint venture in 1997 already and under the country’s tax code joint ventures were that time exempted from paying sales tax.  “Later, amendments were made to the tax code, but we have had the right to continue working on the previous terms,” said Oripov.  Therefore, the tax evasion charge is unfounded, according to him.    

 Concerning 1,500 tons of confectionery and other products beyond their shelf life that were stored in the M&P warehouses in Dushanbe, Oripov said he has documents under which the products beyond their shelf life are returned to warehouses.  “They were stored in the warehouses for further processing because there is such a technology and appropriate documents indicate this,” the M&P top manager said.

We will recall that at first, the State Committee for National Security (GKNB) instituted criminal proceedings against Oripov last summer on charge of giving bribe, but later, the case was transferred to the Agency for State Financial Control and Combating Corruption. 

Oripov was detained in July 2007 when he was trying to give $10,000 in bribe to the GKNB investigator.  Inspections carried out by the GKNB economic squad last July revealed that more than 1,500 tons of confectionery and other products beyond their shelf life were stored in the M&P warehouses in Dushanbe.