Stronski on TBC Bank case – I hope prosecutors conduct independent evidence-base investigation

26-02-2019 17:59:48 Viewpoint ,Other ,Person and Law ,Comment

Former senior analyst for Russian domestic politics in the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research, senior fellow in Carnegie’s Russia and Eurasia Program, Paul Stronski has expressed the hope that prosecutors conduct independent evidence-base investigation regarding the TBC Bank case.

TBC Bank, the leading Georgian banking company, is facing criminal investigation over money-laundering allegations involving a USD 17 million transaction that took place in 2008, the Prosecutor’s Office announced earlier in January. However, TBC Bank denies the charges.

“Money laundering is a serious allegation and any evidence of such wrong doing must be investigated in a careful and independent way.  TBC is a major bank in the country and the allegations against it not only have implications for the Anaklia port, but also for average Georgians who deposit their money there and use the bank on a daily basis.  So, the implications of this case are broader than just Anaklia, internal political maneuverings within Georgia against the bank or any possible Russian meddling to complicate the development of the Port.  So I certainly hope that the evidence used by the prosecutor’s office to back up these claims are strong and that prosecutors conduct a independent evidence-base investigation.  

Evidence of money laundering by a Georgian bank damages Georgia's image and its investor climate. So, I hope the people looking into the case are allowed to do their job carefully and uncover the truth behind these allegations.  This issue is broader than just the port,” Stronski told the Accent on Wednesday.


He also spoke about the importance of the construction of the Anaklia port:


“The port is important to diversify Georgia's economy.  It is important to link Georgia more closely with international trade and shipping route, including potentially to China's Belt and Road Initiative.  So, this is an important issue and I hope Georgian law enforcement can get to the bottom of it.”


The construction of the Anaklia Drainage Port started on December 20, 2017. The opening of the first phase of the Port is scheduled by 2021. 


“It certainly will help enhance transportation and logistics linkages, making Georgia an important hub for goods moving through the Caucasus and Black Sea region.  This will improve Georgia’s prospects of becoming a regional transportation and logistics hub, and potentially attract additional investors either wanting to build east-west linkages from Central Asia and the Caspian to southeastern Europe or eventually north-south linkages from the Black Sea to the Persian Gulf,” Stronski told the Accent.

“It also has the potential to attract greater Chinese investment. The Chinese have grand ambitions for the Belt and Road Initiative,” he said.

The Anaklia Development Consortium is a joint venture of Georgia’s TBC Holding LLC and Conti International LLC, a U.S.-based developer of infrastructure and capital projects.

“I think any American investment in Georgia is positive and builds constituencies for continued robust relations between the United States and Georgia,” Stronski said.

According to him, Georgia needs to cultivate additional partners, who can help enhance the country’s security alongside NATO and the U.S. 

“Enhanced trade and investment ties with China and the Gulf States also would at least raise the costs to Russia for any future aggression in Georgia given that Russia is highly dependent on China and to a lesser extent the Gulf in economic terms,” Stronski said.

“Security is not only about military-to-military cooperation and official bilateral security ties, but economics can help buttress security.  I think Georgia’s long-term security combine all of these aspects,” he added.


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