Georgian Infrastructure Minister Maia Tskitishvili says that there is no connection between the Anaklia deep sea port project and the ongoing money laundering investigation involving the founders of TBC Bank.
She says that Anaklia Consortium, which won the state tender to construct the port and signed a deal with the government in 2016 with TBC Holding as its principal partner, had faced problems in attracting funds for the 2.5 billion USD project before the investigation was launched.
Several opposition members and one of the TBC Bank founders, Mamuka Khazaradze, stated that the reason behind the “absurd” investigation may be the wish of Bidzina Ivanishvili [founder of the Georgian Dream ruling party] to create problems for the “very port of international importance irritating Russia”.
Khazaradze claims that the ongoing investigation affeted the Anaklia project. Photo: Anaklia Development Consortium.
Tskitishvili said that Anaklia Consortium is not only TBC Holding and that it unites four investors – American Conti International among them.
Problems in the implementation of the project started in 2017. The consortium was supposed to have attracted 600 million USD investments by the end of 2017. However, as it failed to do so, the process was postponed until December 31, 2018. In 2018 the obligation was once again postponed for six months,” Tskitishvili said.
She stated that it was announced from the very beginning that the government did not intend to invest in the project and wanted a private company to build it.
The government obligation towards the project was to provide railway and transport infrastructure to the port and to also help acquire lands worth 60 million GEL [22 million USD]. The lands have been handed to the consortium and the obligations have been fulfilled,” Tskitishvili said.
Tskitishvili claims that the government is interested in the construction of the port in Anaklia and its attitude to Anaklia consortium has proven this.
Khazaradze said in his interview with Kviris Palitra that the government “has spent zero lari” on the project and that the delay in the arrangement of infrastructure creates problems for the construction of the port.