Politicians respond to TBC Bank case court decision

  • An investigation into the case was launched in August 2018, while criminal charges against Khazaradze and Japaridze were filed on July 24, 2019. Photo: Mzia Saganelidze/RFE/RL.

Agenda.ge, 13 Jan 2022 - 12:55, Tbilisi,Georgia

Georgian politicians from all sides of the political spectrum have responded to yesterday’s conviction of TBC Bank and Lelo Party founders Mamuka Khazaradze and Badri Japaridze in a case dating back to events in 2008.

Head of Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee from the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) party Anri Okhanashvili responded to the court’s ruling saying “[…] the court confirmed that in 2008, shortly before the August war, Khazaradze-Japaridze-Tsereteli worked out an illegal scheme of granting and writing off bank loans and fraudulently took possession of $17 million." 

Okhanashvili said that the case was politicised, but that “if anyone has introduced politics in this case, it is Khazaradze-Japaridze and the United National Movement in alliance with them. While these people and the United National Movement are trying to convince the public that the actions of the convicts did not go beyond the law, I wonder how and why it happened that the loan recipient companies soon transferred the money to Khazaradze-Japaridze's accounts and the loan was written off in a few months - forgiven.”

Ruling Georgian Dream party MP Mikheil Sarjveladze stated that according to the court’s decision, there are no grounds for speculations left in this case, the court found that they committed an unlawful act.

Transparency International Georgia stated that the case indeed is politically motivated and may serve to both discredit political opponents of the current government and to stop the construction of Anaklia port in the country’s west, a facility of strategic importance for the country.

Even if there is enough evidence to prosecute, the prosecution will not be able to do so now, which means that it is impossible to prove the existence of a predicate crime by the appropriate standard at this stage. According to international practice, bypassing the statute of limitations on the basis of improperly or artificially charged charges (in this case, money laundering) is considered to be an abuse of the legal process," the organisation stated.

Girchi MP, Iago Khvichia also made a statement regarding the case:

We will never be 100 percent sure what is behind this decision, but I have heard comments from lawyers and defendants accused in this case that they are going to appeal this decision and I wanted to say that I do not agree with that. In my opinion, this decision should not be appealed by the defence and allow this case to end.”

Founders of TBC Bank and current leaders of the Lelo opposition party Mamuka Khazaradze and Badri Japaridze were found guilty of fraud and sentenced to seven years in prison by Tbilisi City Court yesterday, but due to the statute of limitations their prison time was waived.

An investigation into the case was launched in August 2018, while criminal charges against Khazaradze and Japaridze were filed on July 24, 2019.