YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — The former chief bodyguard of ex-President Serzh Sarkisian and his wife prosecuted on corruption charges have paid the state almost 2.9 billion drams ($6 million) in compensation, investigators said on Friday.
Vachagan Ghazaryan, who headed Sarkisian’s security detail for over two decades, stands accused of illegal enrichment and false asset disclosure. The charges stem from his failure to declare to a state anti-corruption body more than $2.5 million in cash that was mostly held in his and his wife’s bank accounts.
Ghazaryan was obliged to do that in his capacity as deputy head of a security agency providing bodyguards to Armenia’s leaders. He held that position until May 2018.
Ghazaryan was first detained in June 2018 after police raided his apartment in Yerevan and found $1.1 million and 230,000 euros ($267,000) in cash there. The National Security Service (NSS) said he carried a further $120,000 and 436 million drams ($900,000) in a bag when he was caught outside a commercial bank in Yerevan.
Ghazaryan, who has the rank of NSS general, was released from custody in July 2018 but arrested again last November. A Yerevan court granted him bail in December after he offered to transfer as much as $6 million to the state.
The Special Investigative Service (SIS) said on Friday the once powerful officer and his wife have completed the payment. An SIS spokeswoman described the cash transfer as a recovery of financial “damage” inflicted on the state.
It remains unclear when the SIS will complete investigation and whether Ghazaryan will stand trial.
Earlier this year, another law-enforcement body, the National Security Service (NSS), secured an even heftier payout, worth $30 million, from Serzh Sarkisian’s indicted brother Aleksandr. The money was held in Aleksandr Sarkisian’s Armenian bank account frozen by the NSS shortly after the 2018 “Velvet Revolution” that topped the former president.