USD 2 million and EUR 1 million, confiscated from billionaire opposition politician Bidzina Ivanishvili’s Tbilisi-based Cartu Bank in connection to money laundering probe, has been returned to the bank, the chief prosecutor’s office said.
USD 2 million and EUR 1 million in cash was seized in a police raid on Cartu Bank’s armored van on October 18 – less than two weeks after the billionaire announced about his plans to form a political party to run for the parliament. The cash transit van was on its way from Bank of Georgia’s office from where the cash was withdrawn to Cartu Bank when it was stopped by the police.
The law enforcement agencies said the seizure was made in connection with money laundering probe. The authorities said that transaction involving large amount of cash made by the Cartu Bank was “suspicious” and carried out in violation of standard procedures. The allegation was strongly denied by the Cartu Bank, which condemned the seizure of cash as politically motivated and as retaliation against a political opponent.
The chief prosecutor’s office released a brief written statement on January 10 saying that the cash confiscated on October 18 was transferred to the account of Cartu Bank.
“The cash, seized on October 18, 2011 as part of the investigation launched under article 194 of the Criminal Code of Georgia [legalization of illicit income], was transferred in compliance with the law to the account of Cartu Bank in a form of non-cash payment, that rules out any threat of [this cash] being used for legalization of illicit incomes,” the statement reads.
“Investigation into the case continues,” it added without giving details.
Nodar Javakhishvili, chairman of Cartu Bank’s supervisory board, told Maestro TV on January 11, that it was unclear for him why the investigation was still ongoing as no violation whatsoever had been committed by the Cartu Bank.