July 25, 2024

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Pioneering Business Success

will bank honor business ethics? [PHOTO]

A few days ago, we found out that the Bank of Georgia, which is
considered the leading bank of the neighboring Republic of Georgia,
was actively involved in financing the non-governmental
organization “The Union for Protection of the Interests and Rights
of the “Artsakh” People”, established under the leadership of
Karabakh separatists, Azernews reports.

According to information, the mission of this organization is to
advocate for the collective rights of Karabakh Armenians who
continue to live as “migrants” in Armenia and around the world, to
represent their interests on international platforms, and to revive
separatism by drawing the world’s attention to the problems of
Karabakh Armenians.

The funding of the organization stems from donations from
citizens, and this process is carried out through “AMERIABANK”,
which operates in Armenia. While 90 percent of the shares of
“AMERIABANK”, which provides funding for the newly initiated
separatist activities, belong to the leading bank of the Republic
of Georgia – Bank of Georgia, the remaining 10 percent of the
shares are owned by the European Bank for Reconstruction and
Development (EBRD).

Exhibit 1: Number of AMERIABANK shares held by the
European Bank for Reconstruction and Development

Exhibit 2: Purchase of shares in AMERIABANK by the
European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, 2015

The negotiations on the purchase of shares between AMERIABANK
and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development first
started in 2015. The EBRD acquired a 20.6 percent stake in
AMERIABANK in December of that year in exchange for a $40 million
investment. Although for a long time “AMERIABANK” belonged to the
Armenian billionaire Ruben Vardanyan, who lived in the Russian
Federation, the sale of the bank’s shares occurred in February this
year.

Meanwhile, for reference, before the change of shareholders,
48.82 percent of the bank’s shares were owned by “Imast Group (CY)
Limited”, 17.71 percent by EBRD, 13.91 percent by Asian Development
Bank (ADB), and 12.05 percent by ESPS Holding Limited. Even though
the EBRD’s stakes have decreased since the change earlier this
year, it is clear that the aforementioned bank continues to
maintain its position as a shareholder.

Cooperation between the EBRD, headquartered in London, and the
Republic of Azerbaijan began in 1992, and currently, bilateral
cooperation is governed by the country’s Strategy document for
2019–2024.

The involvement of the EBRD, which operates within a fairly
broad framework with Azerbaijan and is directly engaged in
financing projects in the energy and other sectors considered
strategic, in a project aimed (even if indirectly) at reviving
Armenian separatism is unacceptable.

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development is an
international financial institution that is officially committed to
promoting integrity and high ethical standards in all business
operations following international practice. The EBRD’s Office of
the Chief Compliance functions to investigate allegations of
corruption, money laundering, and fraud filed by the bank and to
address these issues.

The involvement of “AMERIABANK”, whose shareholder is the EBRD,
in the financing of separatist activities claiming the sovereign
territories of Azerbaijan, is an international crime. Also, this
activity of the mentioned bank is a violation of international
compliance rules. Taking into account corporate business ethics and
international financial principles accepted in the world, the
participation of the European Bank for Reconstruction and
Development in financing the project formulated against the
territorial integrity of Azerbaijan is unacceptable.

We hope that this step, incompatible with the spirit of
strategic relations established between the Republic of Azerbaijan
and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, will soon
be eliminated by the General Compliance Office of the Bank.

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