Mamuka Khazaradze’s statement intensifies suspicions about signs of state capture in Georgia

5 Mar, 2019

The Coalition for Euro-Atlantic Georgia, uniting several civil society organizations, responds to recent developments around the founders of TBC Bank.

March 5, 2019, Tbilisi, Georgia

Speaking at the today’s sitting of the Parliament’s Budget and Finance Committee, Mamuka Khazaradze, founder of TBC Bank, said that ahead of the second round of the presidential elections in 2018, he received a threatening letter from Interior Minister Giorgi Gakharia, who demanded him to meet a number of demands, otherwise threatening to ruin his reputation both domestically and internationally. Moreover, he described as blackmail the actions carried out by the National Bank of Georgia and recalled that during a meeting with him, the President of the National Bank hinted at the pressure exerted by politicians and other influential persons with the purpose to compel Khazaradze and Badri Japaridze to resign from the Supervisory Board of TBC Bank. He also said that the government and the persons affiliated to it are carrying out “an orchestrated campaign”, using law enforcement agencies and the National Bank for this purpose. The suspicions that such campaign is carried out are further intensified by the fact that several days ago the parliamentary majority refused to hear Khazaradze and Japaridze in the presence of the National Bank representatives and agreed to give them the floor at the committee hearing only after a public scandal erupted around this issue.

It is worth noting that this is not the first time within past years that businessmen are talking about pressure exerted by government officials or influential persons affiliated to the ruling party. If we discuss Khazaradze’s statement into a broader context, it will further deepen our numerous concerns about the signs of informal rule and a growing tendency of state capture, which involves concentration of excessive power in the hands of the ruling party and informal groups of influential persons and use of public institutions by them for private goals and interests.

This tendency is actually incompatible with the principles of democratic governance and poses a threat to the constitutional order. Therefore, since we do not pin any hopes on the law enforcement agencies to properly respond to Mamuka Khazaradze’s statement and conduct an impartial investigation, we call on the Parliament of Georgia to set up an interim investigative commission which will ensure the comprehensive investigation into the issue at public sessions.

In addition, to shed more light upon the developments, it is important that Mamuka Khazaradze makes public the letter sent to him by Interior Minister Giorgi Gakharia.

Considering the significance of the issue, we are ready to meet with Mamuka Khazaradze and Badri Japaridze should they wish to do so.