Acting National Bank President: amendments on sanctions compliance "not aimed at protection of specific individuals"

Natia Turnava said the new amendments in the regulation on the NBG's compliance with the international financial sanctions were "not aimed at protection of specific names". Photo: IPN, 20 Sep 2023 - 14:33, Tbilisi,Georgia

Natia Turnava, the Acting President of the National Bank of Georgia, on Wednesday said the new amendments in the regulation on the body’s compliance with the international financial sanctions against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine were "not aimed at protection of specific names". 

Turnava was commenting after the Bank exempted Georgian citizens from being sanctioned without domestic court judgement on Tuesday, in a reversal of its sanctioning of Otar Partskhaladze, the former Prosecutor General of the country who was last week sanctioned by the United States Department of State for alleged ties with Russia, earlier during the day. 

The body said it was making the changes to the regulations while “guided by the Constitution of Georgia and the presumption of innocence”, and with the goal to “fully realise the rights and freedoms” of the country’s nationals.

In her comments, the Acting President said the decision was setting a precedent of a "different rule for the enforcement of sanctions in relation to the sanctioned Georgian citizen”.

Turnava also pledged domestic authorities remained "committed to international obligations" for enforcing the sanctions. 

We are a national institution of a sovereign state, we fulfil and respect all international obligations, but in our actions we are guided by the Constitution and legislation of Georgia", she said. 

Accordingly, it is our obligation that when a sanction applies to any citizen of Georgia, in the process of enforcement of this sanction, the fundamental rights defined by the constitution be thoroughly protected and this enforcement be carried out in compliance with the Constitution and legislation. This is the main essence of our decision", Turnava added.

Bank of Georgia and TBC Bank - two leading commercial banks in Georgia - announced they would continue to comply with the requirements related to sanctions regardless of the decision of the National Bank, comments Turnava responded to by saying the "commercial sector has no right to disobey the regulator". 

As the commercial sector is the commercial sector of Georgia and is guided by our legislation [...] I will say here that the enforcement of sanctions is a broader concept than measures to ensure something against a particular sanctioned person”, she said.

While responding to the question on how Georgia's international partners would react to the Bank's amendments, Turnava said the NBG was "guided by the Constitution" and added it would "share details of this decision with international partners".

We will be busy with this in the following days to provide more information and details to our international partners, international financial institutions. Also, we will [discuss this issue] with specific [local] commercial banks, - how this [regulation] is implemented - so that their international obligations are also fulfilled and no questions arise here either”, she said.

The Acting President also confirmed the resignation of Papuna Lezhava, the Vice President of the National Bank. 

I want to say that different people, my colleagues or former colleagues, may have their views on this or that topic. I have no doubt that when it comes to the implementation of the Constitution of Georgia by the National Bank and its compliance with it, and the protection of the fundamental rights of Georgian citizens, there should not be two opinions. My position here is clear and irrevocable", she added.

NBG Vice President Archil Mestvirishvili also resigned from the position on Wednesday.