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TBC Bank founder quits Supervisory Board

By Tea Mariamidze
Friday, February 22
Mamuka Khazaradze, founder and the Chairman of the Supervisory Board of the largest bank in Georgia – TBC, has announced that he quit his position.

Khazaradze’s step followed the decision of the board to withdraw the lawsuit filed against the National Bank of Georgia (NBG), which, several days ago, decided to suspend the authority of Khazaradze and his Deputy Badri Japaridze.

However, Khazaradze and his deputy will keep positions at TBC Bank Group PLC, registered in London, UK, which keeps 100% shares of TBC Bank.

In his Facebook post, former Chairman of TBC Supervisory Board explained that the bank has been under attack for the past few weeks, which resulted in huge losses for the shareholders, amounting to $200 million in one month. He also noted that the reputation of the bank has been questioned.

“I realized that the goal of this pressure was to discredit me...They are fighting against our success and such an attack on me directly affects our bank's reputation,” he explained.

Khazaradze added that the bank cannot be in a long court dispute with its regulator, adding the latter ''is not free in its decisions'' despite the high degree of independence granted by the law.

“I decided to leave the bank where I spent 27 years of my life, the bank that I turned from $500 into the largest player in the region. Hopefully, this decision will positively affect the bank’s development in a stable and calm environment. I will dedicate my energy to our country’s very important project - the Anaklia project. I hope I will be allowed to complete it,” the post reads.

Along with Khazaradze, Badri Japaridze also quit TBC Bank’s Supervisory Board. The information was released by TBC on February 21.

“TBC Bank will implement a restructuring of its Supervisory Board whereby the founding shareholders will not be represented at the Supervisory Board of JSC TBC Bank. The founding shareholders will maintain their positions as the Chair and Deputy Chair of the Board of Directors of TBC Bank Group PLC (a London-based, 100% shareholder of JSC TBC Bank),” the bank said.

TBC Bank underlined they withdraw all court cases against the NBG and will pay approximately GEL 1 million fine imposed by the regulator.

Following the announcements of the TBC and its shareholders, the NBG released a statement, welcoming the decisions made by the bank and its founders.

“The NBG welcomes the decision of TBC Bank. This will have a positive effect on the transparency of the bank and will increase investor confidence, which will ultimately have a positive effect on the development of the bank and the country’s financial sector,” reads the statement.

NBG stresses that TBC Bank is one of the leading financial institutions in the country and in the region and is led by a highly qualified executive management team and independent members of the Supervisory Board.

Opposition parties claim the recent developments around TBC are orchestrated by the founder and Chair of the ruling Georgian Dream (GD) party, billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili, who is often referred to as the informal ruler of the country.

“The TBC Bank case was decided in Bidzina Ivanishvili's glass palace and Mamuka Khazaradze was beaten 100:0 in a criminal dispute,” Roman Gotsiridze, member of the United National Movement said.

Expert Gia Khukhashvili believes that Khazaradze should give a clearer explanation and name the reasons for his decision.

“It is much more valuable for a person what he has created in life, so I understand that he put aside his personal interests, but that does not mean that there are no more questions. On the contrary, now I have more questions around this case. We have to know the motive of Khazaradze’s decision because this is no more his personal case - we have to diagnose our country,” he stated.

On February 14, NBG stated that after examining transactions conducted by TBC Bank 2007-2008, it was revealed that Khazaradze and Japaridze violated the requirements of the legislation regulating conflict of interests, therefore it suspended the authority of the two figures.

Georgia’s Prosecutor’s Office launched an investigation into one of the transactions of the bank, made 10 years ago. The agency noted the case concerns “illicit income legalization and money laundering.”