Public Defender Terms Use of Database of Politically Active Persons by Microfinance Organization Swiss Capital as Discriminatory Practice
On May 19, 2021, the Public Defender of Georgia addressed JSC Microfinance Organization Swiss Capital with a general proposal and called on the company not to use the database of "politically active" people in a discriminatory manner and not to refuse services to customers in a blanket manner, on the above basis.
The basis for the general proposal was a case in which JSC Microfinance Organization Swiss Capital refused to provide a service to an applicant - namely to convert a small amount of money - because he was on the list of "politically active persons" due to his political activities several years ago.
According to the Public Defender, based on the risk-based approach provided by law, a costumer whose activities may pose a threat to money laundering and/or terrorist financing should be identified individually. The existence of a database of politically active persons and its use in practice can have a discriminatory effect on the process of receiving basic financial services. The existence of such databases poses a danger, as in some cases, customers may be unjustifiably denied important and basic services, such as money transfer or conversion, receiving a parcel, opening an account, etc.
Accordingly, the Public Defender called on Swiss Capital to ensure the availability of the services it offers publicly in accordance with the principle of equality and to train its employees in order to improve their skills in proper inspection of the customer. The Public Defender also called on the National Bank of Georgia to extend the standard set by the general proposal to all microfinance organizations operating in Georgia.