YEREVAN — Four days after Armenia’s Court of Appeals revoked an arrest warrant issued for Mikael Minasyan, investigators said on Monday that they have broadened corruption charges brought against former President Serzh Sarkisian’s fugitive son-in-law.
The State Revenue Committee (SRC) said Minasyan has been charged with more counts of “illegal enrichment,” false asset disclosure and money laundering. It claimed to have collected an “unprecedented” amount of information about his dubious financial activities.
Minasyan was first indicted in March one month before the SRC moved to arrest him. A district court in Yerevan agreed to issue an arrest warrant for him on May 6. However, the Court of Appeals overturned that decision on Thursday.
One of Minasyan’s lawyers, Amram Makinyan, scoffed at the investigators’ decision to bring more and “equally baseless” charges against Armenia’s former ambassador to the Vatican. He said that Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan could not come to terms with the Court of Appeals ruling.
Makinyan said earlier that the money laundering charge stems from large sums of cash which Minasyan transferred from one of his bank accounts to another in 2017-2018. The lawyer also claimed that the other accusations are based on a “technical error” committed by the employee of a private firm which drew up and filed his client’s income declarations.
In a statement released on Monday, the SRC charged that Minasyan had also failed to declare his “de facto” ownership of a 49 percent stake in Armenia’s largest food-exporting company, Spayka. The stake formally belonged to another person, Roza Stepanyan. She too has been indicted as part of the same criminal case, according to the statement.
In a related development, Hrachya Hakobyan, a pro-government lawmaker and Pashinian’s brother-in-law, said that investigators have recovered thousands of deleted files from a computer that belonged to Minasyan. He claimed that the files contain detailed information about Minasyan’s financial transactions and illegally acquired assets.
Hakobyan refused to say how he gained access to the supposedly classified SRC data when he was contacted by RFE/RL’s Armenian service.
Minasyan, 42, enjoyed considerable political and economic influence in Armenia 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.
Minasian fled Armenia shortly after he was dismissed as ambassador to the Vatican in late 2018.