YEREVAN — Armenia’s Special Investigation Service (SIS) has brought corruption charges against Serzh Sarkisian, Armenia’s former president, on Wednesday.
The SIS alleged that Sarkisian “organized the embezzlement by a group of officials” of 489 million drams (just over $1 million) in government funds allocated in 2013 for the provision of subsidized diesel fuel to farmers.
In a statement, the SIS said that Sarkisian interfered in a government tender for the fuel supplier to ensure that it is won by Flash, a company which has long been one of Armenia’s main fuel importers. Flash is owned by Barsegh Beglaryan, a businessman believed to have had close ties to the 65-year-old ex-president.
The government paid Flash over 1.8 billion drams ($3.8 million) as part of the scheme designed to help tens of thousands of low-income farmers across the country. According to the SIS statement, another private company, Maxhur, was ready to supply the same quantity of diesel fuel at a lower price which would have allowed the government to save 489 million drams.
The SIS said that the government’s failure to pick Maxhur amounted to a deliberate embezzlement of public funds ordered by Sarkisian.
The law-enforcement agency stopped short of arresting Sarkisian who ruled Armenia from 2008-2018. It said it had him sign a formal pledge not to leave the country pending investigation.
Sarkisian did not immediately comment on the accusation carrying between four and eight years in prison.
Some of Sarkisian’s relatives, cronies and political allies have been prosecuted on corruption charges since his ouster. Also, his predecessor and erstwhile ally, Robert Kocharian, was arrested in July 2018 on coup and bribery charges which he rejects as politically motivated.