February 26, 2019 / 3:57 PM / 25 days ago

Georgian TBC Bank's ex-chairman says he was forced to quit

TBILISI, Feb 26 (Reuters) - TBC Bank JSC’s former chairman Mamuka Khazaradze said on Tuesday he and his deputy Badri Japaridze had been forced to leave last week following pressure from the Georgian government.

TBC Bank JSC, the corporate division of TBC Bank Group , was being investigated by the National Bank of Georgia (NBG) and the country’s office of public prosecution over transactions that took place in 2007 and 2008.

“We took a forced step when we left the bank, but we will not yield our worth and justice,” Khazaradze, who is still chairman of the board of TBC Bank Group, Georgia’s biggest retail bank which is listed in London, said.

The bank said last week it would end legal action against the NBG and would pay it about 1 million lari ($377,000), although Khazaradze said last week he and Japaridze had stepped down as they did not want to further harm the bank’s reputation.

Khazaradze’s comments came after a Georgian parliamentary committee, dominated by MPs from the ruling party, decided not to discuss the bank’s situation or hear from bankers.

Georgia’s National Bank president Koba Gvenetadze said that such discussions would harm the country’s banking sector.

“Consideration of the regulator’s decision in this format can be harmful both for the (National) bank and for the banking sector as a whole,” Gvenetadze told journalists.

Earlier this month, the NBG asked Khazaradze and Japaridze to step down from the board of TBC Bank JSC.

Khazaradze said last week that as a result of the legal dispute, the bank’s reputation had suffered and its international shareholders saw a loss of $200 million in one month. The bank’s London-listed shares fell sharply two weeks ago, but bounced back last week. ($1 = 2.6470 lari) (Reporting by Margarita Antidze; editing by Alexander Smith)

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