Founders of Georgia’s TBC Bank step down in wake of money laundering charges

The Chief Prosecutor’s Office of Georgia has filed criminal charges against Mamuka Khazaradze and Badri Japaridze, the founders of Georgia’s TBC Bank, who are accused of laundering close to 17 million US dollars.

The Prosecutor’s Office launched an investigation against the two owners in 2008. According to the chief prosecutor, TBC Bank gave a loan of 16,754,000 million US dollars to two smaller companies on the same day in May 2008 when the same amount of money was transferred to the bank accounts of Mr Khazaradze and Mr Japaridze. “However, in about a month, on December 31, 2008, the bank wrote off the debt without demanding the real estate provided as a guarantee or receiving the money by the guarantors,” wrote, quoting the Chief Prosecutor’s statement, adding that TBC freed the two companies from its financial obligations in 2012.

After being summonsed to the Prosecutor’s Office, Mr Khazaradze blasted the allegations, saying that the 17 million US dollars he received was from Avto Tsereteli, a TBC-friendly businessman who promised to help with the bank’s financial problems back in 2007. He also stressed that the loan in question was written off due to the Russia-Georgia war in 2008 that resulted in the bankruptcy of many companies. “We have written off 100,000 loans over the past 10 years,” he added.

“The Board of Trustees of TBC Bank Group is confident Mamuka Khazaradze and Badri Japaridze are innocent and look forward to refuting all disputes against them,” TBC officials said in a statement, noting that both Mr Khazaradze and Mr Japaridze resigned from their position of chairman and deputy chairman.

Mr Khazaradze had also announced plans to launch a new civil movement in September.