July 25, 2019 / 7:04 AM / 4 months ago

Georgian bank TBC's chair, deputy resign over money laundering charges

(Reuters) - Georgian lender TBC Bank Group Plc (TBCG.L) said on Thursday its chairman Mamuka Khazaradze and deputy Badri Japaridze had decided to step down from the board with immediate effect, a day after prosecutors charged them with money laundering.

“They have both arrived at this decision after careful consideration in order to ensure that the allegations made against them do not affect the Group and to be able to concentrate on refuting those allegations,” TBC Bank said in a statement.

The executives, who founded the bank in the early 1990s, were charged with laundering illegal revenues worth over $16.75 million, prosecutors had said.

TBC Bank, Georgia’s biggest retail bank, said Khazaradze and Japaridze planned to re-join once the claims against them were cleared, adding that the board had “full confidence” in their integrity.

Shares of the FTSE 250-listed company, which had plunged nearly 12% in the last session making it the worst day on record, were down 0.6% in early trading.

Tbilisi-based TBC Bank, which dominates the banking industry in Georgia with its main competitor Bank of Georgia (BGEO.L), on Thursday also named senior independent director Nikoloz Enukidze as chairman.

Khazaradze had called the charges against him and his fellow banker “absurd”. He said in February that they had been forced to leave the company’s corporate unit, TBC Bank JSC, following pressure from the Georgian government.

TBC Bank JSC was investigated by the National Bank of Georgia (NBG), which is the region’s central bank, and the office of public prosecution over transactions in 2007 and 2008. The unit in February said it would pay about 1 million lari ($345,423.14) to NBG related to the probe.

Reporting by Muvija M in Bengaluru; Editing by Patrick Graham and Shounak Dasgupta

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