The founder and former Board Chair of TBC Bank, Mamuka Khazaradze and his Deputy Badri Japaridze said the Prosecutor’s Office was arranging a close door meeting on September 6 between the foreign diplomats accredited in Georgia and two foreign experts they had hired over the TBC Bank case.
In a joint statement of September 2, Khazaradze and Japaridze said such a meeting would be “a blatant violation” of the Georgian constitution as well as the principles of the civilized world. According to them, this example reveals that the prosecution is “beyond the legal frames” and has “a sharp crisis of legitimation.”
Khazaradze and Japaridze also noted that with their statement over the TBC Bank case, the representatives of the ruling Georgian Dream party attempt to show the case-related details in a wrong way, deliberately trying to mislead people ahead of the court ruling.
They both ask for proceeding with the TBC Bank affair “transparently, with protection of all the standards of Georgian constitution and international law of human rights,” and that experts studying the case should be internationally acknowledged independent lawyers, not those hired by the Prosecutor’s Office.
Prosecutor’s Office: TBC Bank founders’ statement “false”
Later that day, Prosecutor’s Office released a statement saying “no meeting is planned at this time,” however, it said the “international organizations, representatives of diplomatic corps accredited in Georgia and other interested parties” will read a report “prepared by foreign experts of higher qualifications.”
Stressing that “the investigation is open and transparent,” the Prosecutor Office said “it is absolutely inadequate and unacceptable to cast doubt on the impartiality of lawyers with international authority on the sole ground that the General Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia has offered them to prepare an expert report.”
Noting that “defendants’ suspicions about the activities of experts and involvement of international community representatives in the process are preventive and aim to discredit the foregoing conclusion,” the Prosecutor’s Office also said that it is “an indication of the highest standard of objectivity and human rights protection” that prosecution “refused to apply international practice when persons in cases of similar content are subject to a pre-trial detention.”
Tbilisi City Court ruled that Khazaradze and Japaridze have to post a GEL 700,000 bail each after being charged in a money laundering lawsuit. They also won’t be able to leave the country without the prosecutor’s permission.
The ongoing investigation into TBC Bank was made public in January 2019 following the media reports that the Prosecutor’s Office seized case-related documentation from the bank.
Khazaradze immediately denied the charges, claiming the legality of the said transaction was inspected multiple times by the local and international fiscal authorities and no “red flags” were raised. He then said the bank was suffering an “orchestrated” political attack.
Developments around TBC Bank have brought into question the fate of the Anaklia Deep Sea Port project, a USD 2.5 billion investment on the Black Sea coast in Zugdidi Municipality not far from Abkhazia, where Mamuka Khazaradze’s TBC Holding is the leading partner.
The Anaklia Development Consortium, a joint venture of TBC Holding and U.S.-based Conti International, was awarded the contract to build and operate the deep sea port in 2016; construction works commenced in December 2017 and are currently underway.
Khazaradze linked the TBC case to the construction of Anaklia port, suggesting that the purpose of the investigation could be to squeeze him and Japaridze out of the project.
In July, Khazaradze announced his plans to set up a new public movement in September aimed at “uniting the country and maintaining its independence and liberty.”
For more information, visit our tag on TBC Bank.