Fugitive Oligarchs Mikael Minasyan & Gurgen Khachatrian

Both are Accused of Illegal Enrichment, False Asset Disclosure and Money Laundering

YEREVAN — A court in Yerevan approved on Wednesday an arrest warrant against Mikael Minasyan, former President Serzh Sarkisian’s fugitive son-in-law prosecuted on corruption charges which he rejects as politically motivated.

Armenia’s State Revenue Committee (SRC) brought the accusations of illegal enrichment, false asset disclosure and money laundering in March and revealed them one month later. It also moved to arrest Minasyan late last month.

Mikael Minasyan apparently left Armenia shortly after he was dismissed as the country’s ambassador to the Vatican in late 2018. He declined to reveal his current whereabouts in two video messages posted on Facebook in recent days.

“I would suggest that Mikael Minasyan frequently release such videos,” said Deputy Prime Minister Tigran Avinyan. “I’m sure that we too get some information from those videos.”

Another senior official, deputy parliament speaker Alen Simonyan, said Minasyan thus effectively admitted having “liabilities towards the Republic of Armenia.”

Minasyan, 42, enjoyed considerable political and economic influence in the country when it was ruled by his father-in-law from 2008-2018. He is also thought to have developed extensive business interests in various sectors of the Armenian economy.

Meanwhile, another court in Yerevan allowed law-enforcement bodies on Sunday to arrest Gurgen Khachatrian a wealthy businessman and son of Armenia’s arrested former Finance Minister Gagik Khachatryan.  Khachatrian was not immediately arrested and his whereabouts remained unknown as of Monday evening.

The Khachatryan family has extensive business interests. The most important of its assets is Ucom, one of the country’s three mobile phone operators and largest Internet and cable TV provider.

The ex-minister’s two sons and a nephew own a combined 77 percent of the Ucom stock. Gurgen Khachatryan is also the chairman of the company’s board of directors.

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said through a spokeswoman that Khachatryan and his relatives must return hundreds of millions dollars stolen from the people. She said relevant authorities will allow the Khachatryans to sell their Ucom stake only if they agree to transfer all proceeds from such a deal to the government.

Late last month authorities arrested Sedrak Arustamyan, the top manager of companies belonging to another wealthy businessman, Gagik Tsarukyan.

The NSS claims that Arustamyan had paid Gagik Khachatryan a $22.4 million bribe to ensure privileged treatment of those companies by tax authorities. It says that the payment took the form of two bogus loans provided to the former minister who was arrested on corruption charges last August.

The NSS also summoned Gurgen Khachatryan’s wife and mother for questioning. Both women reportedly refused to testify as witnesses.

 

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