The Case of the Bankers
The Prosecutor General of Georgia has applied to the Tbilisi City Court forprohibitive measure against Mamuka Khazaradze and Badri Japaridze. On July 24 Mamuka Khazaradze and Badri Japaridze were accused of money laundering illegal incomes worth 16,664,000 USD (a crime punished by subparagraph A of part 2 of article 194 of the Georgian Criminal Code and subparagraph C of part 3 of the same article).
The Prosecutor General’s Office has instituted an investigation against the legalization of illegal incomes worth 17 million USD. On January 8th, the Prosecutor’s Office released information that it had taken certain documents from TBC Bank as part of the investigation.
Several international and domestic organizations have reacted to the accusations against Khazaradze and Japaridze, including the US and British embassies in Georgia, EBRD and IFC.
“The International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the World Bank (WB) group, has been informed about developments around the TBC Bank and reshuffles in the supervisory board of the TBC Bank Group. We welcome the decision that the chairman and deputy chairman of the TBC Bank Group supervisory board have taken on quitting positions on the board to ensure transparent legal proceedings, and protect the bank in a hostile environment. IFC was the first international institution to become a TBC Bank stakeholder in 2000, and we will continue to support the TBC Bank Group. The Banking sector’s growth is important for economic development, and our objective is to continue development of other sectors, and ensure access to financial resources for the business sector”, the statement reads.
On July 25th, the US Embassy released a special statement.
‘We express our embarrassment regarding the context and time of this accusation”, the US embassy statement reads. The Embassy stressed that the USA backs the implementation of the Anaklia seaport project, which is an important source of American investments in Georgia.
Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze reacted to the American Embassy’s statement, and noted that the transparency of the investigation process will be ensured.
“First of all, I would like to note that TBC Bank is a strong financial institution. It is a system bank for our economy and, naturally, I urge all parties, including Mamuka Khazaradze, and other persons and politicians, not to try to get political benefits from this process: we should not damage such an important financial institution for our economy by similar statements. TBC Bank is a systemic, strong bank represented at the London Stock Exchange (LSE). Therefore, we should show restraint and a sense of responsibility in our statement and appraisals.
As for our strategic partner and statements by the US Embassy, this statement promulgates the same aspirations as every Georgian citizen – the trial should be transparent and impartial. And we will ensure these values.
I would like to reiterate that Georgia provides European standards in its judicial system. Therefore, I believe there will be no questions around this process”, Mamuka Bakhtadze said.
Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze also talked about the Anaklia Seaport’s construction issues.
“Our team has initiated this important project. Without a deepwater seaport, Georgia will not be able to ensure the crucial implementation of its role as a transport hub. Therefore, this project is of strategic importance for us. The Anaklia Seaport project will be implemented, as necessary,” Prime Minister noted.
The former Economy Minister also disagrees that the accusations against Khazaradze relate to Anaklia Seaport project.
“Naturally, similar accusations cannot have a positive influence on business”, Giorgi Kobulia said; however, he asserts that these accusations are not motivated by Khazaradze’s engagement in the Anaklia Port project.
It should be noted that there is huge public interest in this case. The Prosecutor’s Office also realized that it should be based on substantiated arguments, Kobulia concluded.