TBC Bank Denies Role in Okuashvili Affair, Says all Transactions Legal

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The FINANCIAL — Chairman of TBC Bank’s supervisory board Mamuka Khazaradze denied the recent claims of Zaza Okuashvili, owner of the Omega Group business conglomerate and a Tbilisi-based Iberia TV, that implicated TBC owners in facilitating a fraudulent scheme in 2016, by which Okruashvili allegedly paid off the ex-officials affiliated with the Georgian Dream founder Bidzina Ivanishvili.

Khazaradze said on October 2 that “everything was done in accordance with the law,” and warned that “lies and defamation” must end. “Even if you opened a company 20 minutes ago, you have money [on your account] and your director applies [to the bank for withdrawal], the bank is obliged to give the money out,” he said, provided all the necessary documentation were in order.

Khazaradze’s statement comes two days after Okuashvili claimed in a live interview with Rustavi 2 TV, an opposition-leaning television channel, that he was forced to transfer four million GEL to a shell offshore company, identified as Olympus Ltd, to subsequently withdraw the laundered sum and pay off the ex-officials affiliated with Ivanishvili in exchange for the government agencies settling problems facing the company.

Okuashvili claimed, that the amount was given out without proper documentation and outside the TBC Bank’s usual working hours, under the government pressure.

According to the National Agency of Public Registry of the Ministry of Justice, Olympus Ltd was registered on April 19, 2016 in Georgia but its shares are fully owned by Widepoint Investments Inc., registered in Panama.

Last week, a popular Georgian online news outlet Netgazeti has published photocopies, apparently proving that director of Olympus Alexandre Khachishvili withdrew USD 1 million at 7:22 pm on April 21, 2016; and USD 781 thousand at 12:25 pm on April 22, 2016 from the company’s bank account at the TBC Bank, in cash.

TBC Bank’s lawyer Ekaterine Egutia claimed Olympus “is not an offshore company,” but rather a Georgian limited liability company, and that it has opened its bank account “in full respect of the norms.” She also said that “it is a lie as if the transaction was made outside working hours,” as the bank operates until 8 pm.

According to Egutia, she could not give out information about this particular transaction due to “banking secrecy,” but she underscored that “this was an ordinary transaction,” similar to those that “happen in the bank every day.”



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