By: K. KHODANIAN

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has recently expressed disappointment that the key aspirations of the 2018 revolution – justice and the eradication of corruption – have not materialized to the extent hoped.

One glaring unmet expectation pertains to the restitution of ill-gotten wealth. Currently, a trial is underway, seeking the confiscation of $60 million from former president Robert Kocharyan and his family. Although this amount may seem substantial, considering reports from Russian media estimating the Kocharyans’ global wealth in the billions, this sum appears to be a fraction of his family’s total assets.

Armenia’s investigative bodies and prosecutor’s office, grappling with limited resources, struggle to uncover the entirety of the Kocharyans’ wealth, which is dispersed worldwide. Locating funds transferred abroad presents a formidable challenge due to the intricate nature and clandestine execution of such business transactions.

The prosecutor took about 45 minutes to tally the assets of Sedrak Kocharyan, the eldest son of the former president, who amassed a fortune at the age of 20. The list includes numerous properties in the heart of Yerevan, notably the valuable ones on Northern Avenue, shares in multiple banks, dividends in various companies, and even a stake in a company in distant Tanzania, Africa.

Those familiar with Kocharyan’s background highlight that in the late nineties, upon arriving in Armenia from Artsakh and assuming the positions of prime minister and later president, Robert Kocharyan had no possessions. Over his ten-year rule, he laid the groundwork for an oligarchic system, accumulating substantial wealth for himself and his inner circle. These people provided him with the means to quell popular uprisings and maintain a grip on power.

In a parliamentary address, Prime Minister Pashinyan emphasized that accountability for investigative bodies and the prosecutor’s office should be based on the number of cases reached verdicts rather than merely filed or sent to court.

Currently, over 90 asset confiscation cases are under investigation in the Anti-Corruption Court. Notable figures, including the third president Serzh Sargsyan, former defense minister Seyran Ohanian, former police chief Vladimir Gasparyan, former prime minister Hovik Abrahamyan, and others, face accusations. The Armenian state seeks the confiscation of approximately 1,000 fixed and 200 tangible assets of illegal origin, amounting to $1.245 billion. To put this into perspective, this sum equals the defense budget allocated for the country’s crucial national security needs this year alone.

Regrettably, thus far no verdicts have been reached in these cases. Lengthy court sessions, spanning over months instead of consecutive days, contribute to prolonged proceedings, with many decisions becoming unenforceable due to the statute of limitations.

Acknowledging citizans discontent, the government must closely monitor and address these issues within legal constraints, even exploring procedural laws of other countries. Failing to do so leaves any government, including the revolutionary one, susceptible to unmet public expectations and disappointments.
“MASSIS”

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