LOS ANGELES — The U. S. Department of Justice wants to seize a Los Angeles mega-mansion allegedly purchased with bribes paid by an Armenian businessman to the family of Gagik Khachatryan, a former Finance Minister of Armenia.
A complaint filed Monday in federal court seeks the forfeiture of the 33,652-square-foot (3,126-square- meter) mansion in Holmby Hills.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice complaint, the home was purchased for $14.4 million in 2011 by a trust on behalf of Gagik Khachatryan and his two sons, who are all facing criminal charges in Armenia.
It wasn’t immediately clear whether they had attorneys in the United States who could speak on their behalf about the forfeiture request. No attorneys for them were listed in the complaint.
Khachatryan, 66, his two sons and the businessman are all facing criminal charges in Armenia; the businessman is accused of providing more than $20 million in bribes. An attorney representing WRH Inc., the company that owns the home, did not respond to a message seeking comment.
The Holmby Hills property went on the market April 7, with real estate agency Hilton & Hyland heralding its “immaculate architecture, manicured landscaping, and your chance to completely customize the interiors.”
The saga of the residence begins in 2008, when Khachatryan took over leadership of the State Revenue Committee, the government agency that assesses and collects taxes in Armenia. Following that post, he served two years as the country’s finance minister but continued to oversee taxation duties, earning him a reputation as a “superminister,” prosecutors said.
To secure favorable tax treatment, the businessman, Sedrak Arustamyan, allegedly entered into two sham loan agreements with Khachatryan’s adult sons — the first loan in 2009 for $7 million and another in 2011 for $13.4 million. Both loans bore agreements specifying when payment was due and the terms of interest, but according to court filings, Arustamyan never received any interest or principal payment on either “supposed loan.”
To make use of these purported loans, Khachatryan and his sons formed multiple entities “to receive, disguise and conceal illegal bribe payments” as well as their purchase of the Holmby Hills property. More than $13 million was wired by Arustamyan directly to West Coast Escrow’s Comerica Bank account, but days before the sale closed, he affirmed he would not hold title and relinquished any claim to the money, according to court filings.
Soon after buying the home — previously owned by Lions Gate Entertainment executive Jon Feltheimer — the family razed the property and hired Richard Landry, a mega-mansion architect who has built trophy estates for celebrities including Mark Wahlberg, Tom Brady and Wayne Gretzky.
In 2016, when Khachatryan left office, the alleged bribery scheme came to light and authorities discovered millions of dollars in unpaid taxes owed by Arsutamyan’s companies, according to prosecutors. In 2019, Khachatryan was charged with abuse of power and embezzlement. His sons and Arusatamyan were charged in 2020. The sons, Gurgen and Artyon, have since fled Armenia, according to court filings.