Civil.ge — Badri Japaridze and Mamuka Khazaradze. Photo: Screengrab from Radio Tavisupleba’s video
The Supreme Court of Georgia has refused to consider the so-called “money laundering case” of the founders of TBC Bank and the opposition party Lelo, Mamuka Khazaradze, Badri Japaridze, and businessman Avtandil Tserteli, father of the TV Pirveli owner, Vato Tsereteli. The decision came six months after the parties appealed the verdict of the Court of Appeal.
Khazaradze, Japaridze, and Tsereteli were charged in 2019 with laundering the $17 million in 2008 and faced nine to 12 years in prison. Prosecutors argued that TBC Bank lent the money to Tsereteli’s companies in April and May 2008, and Tsereteli funneled the money back to Khazaradze and Japaridze. Subsequently, TBC Bank wrote off the loan in 2012, according to the investigation. In 2022, after the judge changed the qualification of the article to the “group fraud” the Tbilisi City Court found Mamuka Khazaradze, Badri Japaridze, and Avtandil Tserteli guilty of group fraud and sentenced them to seven years in prison, but released the three on the grounds that the statute of limitations had expired by the time of the verdict. The defense appealed and in January 2023, the Court of Appeals upheld the City Court’s decision.
Avtandil Tsereteli’s lawyer, Kakha Tsereteli, commented to local news agency “Interpress News” that the Supreme Court’s decision upholds the validity of the Court of Appeal’s ruling and effectively ends the legal proceedings in Georgia on the case. The defense is now preparing materials for submission to the European Court of Human Rights.
According to Avtandil Tsereteli’s lawyer, it was surprising that the court didn’t even consider the case although “there were many factors that we had pointed out in the complaints, such as the decision on the amnesty article, the change of qualifications without justification, the lack of evidence”. He added: “Despite all this, the Supreme Court refused to review the case, saying that it should be left without a trial,” he added.