Cartu Bank, owned by the billionaire-turned-politician Bidzina Ivanishvili, said that despite of seizure of large amount of its cash by the police, it was not in need of any financial assistance from the central bank.
Cartu Bank said in a statement on October 28, that it enjoyed with one of the highest liquidity levels in the Georgian banking sector.
Cartu Bank’s statement was made in a response to remarks by President of National Bank of Georgia, Giorgi Kadagidze, who told journalists on October 27 that the central bank was ready to allocate “financial resources” in an amount of USD 2 million and EUR 1 million – the same amount was seized in a police raid on Cartu Bank’s armored cash transit van – in order “to put an end to political speculations” over the issue.
“Cartu Bank’s normal operations face no danger whatsoever. We are even ready to consider an assistance package for Cartu Bank if needed,” Kadagidze said on October 27. “Politicizing issues related to banking sector is totally unacceptable for us. We have a huge success in this sector and one of the cornerstones of this success is the fact that the banking sector is free of any political pressure.”
Cartu Bank said in the statement that it was the government which had politicized the issue by starting to target the bank because of its owner Bidzina Ivanishvili’s decision to go into politics. Cartu Bank said that while its cash was seized under the pretext of preventing money laundering, the authorities had not even questioned the Bank of Georgia’s role in the transaction. Seized cash was withdrawn by Cartu Bank from Bank of Georgia’s headquarters. In its statement Cartu Bank described Bank of Georgia as the bank “loyal to the authorities.” Bank of Georgia’s CEO Irakli Gilauri is brother of PM Nika Gilauri.
Cartu Bank also said that ongoing inspection into its operations, launched by the central bank, was “actually carried out in the regime of a temporary administration.” Cartu Bank has also claimed that “pressure was exerted” on its clients to withdraw funds from the bank.
“Cartu Bank strongly demands to stop politically-motivated pressure on bank and on its clients and return of unjustifiably seized cash,” the bank said in the statement.
On October 28 central bank chief was in the Parliament delivering annual report. When asked by an opposition lawmaker about Cartu Bank-related development, Kadagidze reiterated the National Bank’s readiness to provide any assistance if needed; but he also suggested, that the Cartu Bank’s statement that it was not in need of any such assistance was only increasing suspicion about the transaction it carried out on October 18, involving unusually large amount of cash.