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Raiffeisen Bank Says that Georgia’s Issue is Confidential

Published: October 7, 2013 | 10:58 am
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The COMMERCIAL TIMES
EXCLUSIVE

Inaccurate business calculations made 15 years ago, and debts towards the Austrian Raiffeisen Bank which the Georgian State has to repay. Georgian government is studying the debts that were accrued years ago. The Finance Minister Nodar Khaduri has stated that talks with the new leadership of the Austrian Raiffeisen Bank are underway. According to him, Georgia accrued tens of millions of Lari’s worth of debts towards Raiffeisen Bank International (RBI) following certain financial conflicts between businessman and former MP Levan Pirveli’s company Anglo Oil and Sakenergo. The company Anglo Oil was supplying Sakenergo with natural gas and black oil for electricity supplies in 1998-1999. The project was being fi nanced by RBI. Following the break-up of Sakenergo, the debts were not repaid.
Raiffeisen Bank International is a leading commercial and investment bank for Austria’s top 1,000 commercial customers. In Central and Eastern Europe, its subsidiaries cover de facto the entire region: approximately 14.2 million customers are serviced at more than 3,000 business outlets in the corporate and private customer segments as well as in investment banking. In addition, RBI appeals to wealthy private customers with services in the areas of Premium Banking and Private Banking in selected countries of the region.
It was reported that under the previous government in 2008, RBI was offered the late businessman Badri Patarkatsishvili’s Standart Bank by the Prime Minister Lado Gurgenidze as an alternative to debt repayment. The COMMERCIAL TIMES contacted Mr. Gurgenidze, who is currently the head of the Supervisory Council of Liberty Bank, but he has declined to comment on the issue. As for KOR Standard Bank, its Director General Giorgi Ghlonti says that he has never heard of the existence of such a proposal.
However, during an exclusive interview with The COMMERCIAL TIMES, Raiffeisen Bank itself has neither confirmed nor denied having been offered Standard Bank inexchange for the state debt: “The representatives of the Georgian Republic made several proposals to settle this matter, however, no result could be achieved to date. We hope for your understanding that we cannot provide more detailed information about previous or ongoing settlement discussions,” declared Michael Palzer, Head of PR, Marketing and Event Management of Raiffeisen Bank International.
In 2008, the Abu Dhabi Group bought Georgian Standard Bank from the private equity group Salford Capital, which was close to Georgian billionaire Badri Patarkatsishvili, who died a month earlier. The National Bank of Georgia placed Standard Bank into temporary administration in November 2007 because of worries over its liquidity. Salford’s lawyers said that the bank was being targeted because of apparent links to Patarkatsishvili, who was suspected by the Georgian governmentof trying to incite a coup in Georgia. Patarkatsishvili, a billionaire opponent of Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili, died suddenly in February 2008 at his estate near London.
As Mr. Palzer told us, the precise amount of Georgia’s debt to RBI is confi dential. “We do not want to disclose it to the public, but it is considerable.”
According to the head of the RBI PR, Marketing and Event Management, the Sakenergo case is “an open issue between the Republic of Georgia and RBI.” In his words, RBI and Mr. Pirveli are not ‘partners.’ As for future plans regarding the country, Mr.Palzer comments: “The Republic of Georgia is not a part of our core region, and the experience made so far is not very encouraging.”
According to the official website, RBI is the only Austrian bank with a presence in both the world’s financial centres and in Asia, the group’s further geographical area of focus.

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