TBC Bank founders accused of money laundering to appeal in ECHR

  • “My clients are being investigated for a transaction that took place 11 years ago in 2008. A criminal case has been launched. Why is this an unusual fact? Because during these 11 years no criminal proceedings have been initiated against them“, added Kay. Photo: Nino Tarkhnishvili(RFE/RL).

Agenda.ge, 6 Sep 2019 - 19:58, Tbilisi,Georgia

TBC Bank founders Mamuka Khazaradze and Badri Japaridze, charged with laundering $16,664,000, are going to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights in the near future, their lawyer Zviad Kordzadze says.  

British international criminal lawyer Steven Kay and French expert at the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE) Vincent Berger have been involved in the Khazaradze-Japaridze case as their lawyers as well. 

We see politicians making public statements about the TBC Bank case. And these statements are made by officials, leaders of political parties, and their conversations show that they have detailed knowledge of the case. All of this gives the impression that we are dealing with political persecution and that this process is not conducted in accordance with the rule of law”, said Steven Kay.

My clients are being investigated for a transaction that took place 11 years ago in 2008. A criminal case has been launched. Why is this an unusual fact? Because during these 11 years no criminal proceedings have been initiated against them“, added Kay.

The lawyers reference a letter which according to Khazaradze was sent to him by former Interior Minister Giorgi Gakharia. Kay said that this letter is “essentially substantive evidence” and they will use this letter as evidence in the course of the case. 

His lawyers say it is crucial to examine in detail whether the positions of the National Bank and its governing body complies with the provisions of Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which establishes the rights to a fair and equitable trial.

We often talk about this particular article in Strasbourg. What surprised us so much in the TBC Bank case is that the investigation somehow, too late, recalled an 11-year-old transaction that was no secret to anyone”, said Berger.

TBC Bank suffered great losses because of the National Bank of Georgia, Berger said. He added that the bank's reputation as well as that of its managers has been tarnished. 

This case deserves the full attention of the European Court of Human Rights," Berger said.

He added that there are often cases where the state is punished for inflicting damage on its political opponents in violation of fundamental human rights.

He also said that beyond the banking sector of Georgia, this case is very interesting for many countries, especially for those who work in the financial sector. 

Khazaradze and Japaridze were charged on July 24, 2019 for laundering $16,664,000.

Bail was set for both of them at 700,000 GEL ($236,199/€214,178) on July 2 – they both posted bail on August 26.

The Georgian Chief Prosecutor’s Office originally demanded bail be set at 1 million GEL (about $0.34/€0.31 million).  

TBC Bank co-founder Mamuka Khazaradze said on August 20 that the equivalent of more than $16 million had been frozen on his accounts and on those of co-founder Badri Japaridze per a request of the Prosecutor’s Office. 

The case dates back to 2008, when LTD Samgori M and LTD Samgori Trade received a $17 million loan in an accelerated manner from TBC Bank without providing anything in collateral. 

On the same day, the same amount was placed onto the personal accounts of Khazaradze and Japaridze, the Georgian Prosecutor’s Office claims. 

Khazaradze and Japaridze deny the charges against them, and say that the case discredits the bank and affects the country’s economic image at large. 

They said that the transaction in question took place in full compliance with the law and that leading financial institutions have confirmed this in audits.

In addition to the co-founders of TBC Bank, Georgian businessman, Avtandil Tsereteli, co-owner of the companies Samgori Trade and Samgori M, was charged in late August earlier as an accomplice. 

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