When speaking at yesterday’s session of the Budget and Finance Committee in Parliament of Georgia, Mamuka Khazaradze, founder of TBC Bank, said that, in the run up to the second round of the 2018 Presidential Elections, he had received a letter with threats from Minister of Internal Affairs Giorgi Gakharia, who insisted that Khazaradze met certain demands, threatening to tarnish Khazaradze’s reputation domestically and internationally had he failed to comply. Furthermore, he described as blackmail the actions carried out by the National Bank and recalled that, during a meeting with him, the National Bank president hinted at the pressure exerted by politicians and other influential persons with the aim of forcing Khazaradze and Badri Japaridze to resign from the Supervisory Board of TBC Bank. He said that the government and persons connected to it are clearly waging an “orchestrated campaign”, using law enforcement bodies and the National Bank for this purpose. The suspicions that such campaign is conducted are confirmed 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 only agreed to give them the floor at the committee hearing after a public scandal erupted around this issue.
It is worth noting that this is not the first time in recent years that businessmen are talking about pressure coming from representatives of the government or from influential persons linked to the ruling party. If we put Khazaradze’s statement into a broader context, it will further reinforce the concerns we have expressed on numerous occasions regarding the signs of informal rule and a growing trend of state capture, which involves concentration of excessive power in the hands of the ruling party and informal groups of influential persons and their use of public institutions for private goals and interests.
This trend is, in essence, incompatible with the principles of democratic governance and poses a threat to the constitutional order. Given this and the fact that we do not pin any hopes on the law enforcement agencies to respond appropriately to Mamuka Khazaradze’s statement and conduct an unbiased investigation, we call on Parliament to establish a temporary investigative commission which will ensure that the issue is examined in detail at public sessions.
In addition, in order to shed more light on the events, it is important that Mamuka Khazaradze makes public the letter that Minister of Internal Affairs Giorgi Gakharia sent him.
Considering the significance of this issue, we are ready to meet with Mamuka Khazaradze and Badri Japaridze should they wish to do so.
Transparency International Georgia
International Society for Fair Elections and Democracy
Georgian Democracy Initiative
Article 42 of the Constitution
Open Society Georgia Foundation
Center for Investigative Journalism and Economic Analysis
Georgian Farmers’ Association
Georgian Institute of Politics
Georgia’ Reforms Associates
Regional Center for Strategic Research
Society and Banks
World Experience for Georgia
Atlantic Council of Georgia
Economic Policy Research Center
Liberal Academy Tbilisi
The Media Development Foundation
Georgian Foundation for Strategic and International Studies