The Tbilisi Court of Appeals on Thursday found Mamuka Khazaradze and Badri Japaridze, the co-founders of TBC Bank and the Lelo opposition party, of fraud in the case stemming back to 2008, involving almost $17 million.
By the ruling the court rejected the appeals of both the prosecution and the defence - with the former demanding conviction for money-laundering, while the latter claiming “no crime” had taken place.
The court sentenced both, as well businessman Avtandil Tsereteli for their support, to seven years in prison, however, the defendants have not been imprisoned due to the expired statute of limitations.
Khazaradze said he would appeal the verdict to the Supreme Court, reiterating his previous position that the charges had been “invented” by the current Georgian Dream authorities to hamper his business activities.
The prosecutor’s office filed money laundering charges against Khazaradze and Japaridze in 2019, with the businessmen, who entered politics later the same year, claiming by the move the founder of the ruling Georgian Dream party, Bidzina Ivanishvili, aimed at hampering the construction of the Anaklia deep sea strategic port in the country’s west, with the TBC Bank behind the project, to meet the “Kremlin’s instructions”.