Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili revealed on 12 December that the long-awaited deep sea port of Anaklia will be built with the government’s participation, which will subsequently own 51% of it.
The Prime Minister noted that an international competition will be announced to select the partners and companies which will participate in the project.
PM Garibashvili also recalled the contract that the government had signed with the Anaklia Development Consortium in 2016 for the port’s construction, and claimed that the consortium “failed to fulfill its obligation…”
According to the PM, Badri Japaridze and Mamuka Khazaradze – the founders of TBC Bank (which made up part of the consortium) and the Lelo for Georgia opposition party – spent USD 3 million on the project but attracted a total of USD 20-25 million from investors.
“After they abandoned this project after 4-5 years and failed to implement it, they decided to rob our country. They sued and took the case to arbitration and today they are disputing USD 1.5 billion. Can you imagine what is happening?!” – the PM proclaimed.
“This project is abandoned, the place is desolate… This is categorically unacceptable, we must urgently select an international partner and we must also start investing,” he added.
Khazaradze responded to the PM on the same day, emphasizing, “The Prime Minister lied 4 times today.”
“I want to underline that my main motivation is to see Anaklia constructed,” he stressed. “This is the purpose of arbitration as well – to force the government to build the port!”
The Anaklia Deep Sea Port project has been mired in controversy for several years. The last attempt to build the port was by the above-mentioned Anaklia Development Consortium – a joint venture of TBC Holding and U.S.-based Conti International which was awarded the contract to build and operate the port in 2016.
But the ADC faced multiple setbacks, including the money-laundering allegations which emerged in 2019 against Khazaradze and Japaridze. Soon after the prosecutors filed charges against the two, Conti International announced its departure from the Consortium.
Both Khazaradze and Japaridze have maintained that the allegations against them were politically motivated, as well as an attempt to foil the construction of the port, widely regarded as a strategically and commercially crucial project.
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The development finally resulted in the Government terminating its contract with the ADC in January 2020, as the Consortium was unable to find a major investor to replace the Conti group.
Note: This article was updated on 13 December at 12:19 p.m. to reflect Khazaradze’s response to the Prime Minister’s remarks.