Though they do so ‘voluntarily’, their donations were preceded by pressure from the state and revolutionary leader Nikol Pashinyan" />

Armenian oligarchs to ‘gift’ millions of dollars to treasury

Though they do so ‘voluntarily’, their donations were preceded by pressure from the state and revolutionary leader Nikol Pashinyan

Alexander Sargsyan, the brother of former President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan, is ready to return a sum of 30 million dollars to the state treasury from one of his bank accounts.

Following suit, the former head of the State Customs Committee of Armenia, Armen Avetisyan, who is suspected of money laundering, wants to transfer ownership of his hotel in Tsaghkadzor to the state.

Where’s the 30 million coming from?

The conversation about Alexander Sargsyan’s 30 million dollars began several months ago. Acting Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan spoke about it first in September, during the election campaign for the Council of Elders of Yerevan elections (the capital’s parliament):

“Serzh Sargsyan’s brother Sashik [Alexander] Sargsyan has 30 million dollars in one Armenian bank alone, and all this money has been seized. I demand that Sashik Sargsyan publicly undertake within a week to voluntarily return the 30 million dollars to the state trasury.”

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In response, Alexander Sargsyan accused the prime minister of disclosing personal financial information and called for the freeze on his accounts to be lifted. He argued that all his income had been legally obtained:

“Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan understands well that I did not obtain these amounts illegally, that they cannot be confiscated by legal means. But because of the negative attitude towards me, [and the use of] my official position and power against me, I am being threatened to hand over money that I own to the treasury. I am sure that the prime minister and law enforcement agencies are well aware of how these actions of the prime minister of Armenia may be assessed from a legal point of view.”

Alexander Sargsyan stated that between 1985-1995 he was engaged in business in Russia and returned to Armenia with a large amount of money. He also noted that he was engaged in business at home.

Later it became known that the investigative department of the National Security Service imposed a freeze on all his accounts. There is no specific information about the preliminary investigation, nor has a criminal case against Alexander Sargsyan been launched.

Pashinyan says that the brother of the ex-president is now ready to transfer the 30 million dollars voluntarily to the treasury. The reason why, however, is unclear.

What is Aleksander Sargsyan known for?

The brother of the former president in Armenia is called Sashik. During the presidency of Serzh Sargsyan, it was said that many businessmen were forced to give 50 per cent of their income to Sashik. After the change of power in Armenia, calls were made to return these funds to the treasury.

Another present to the state – this time from the former head of customs

The former head of the State Customs Committee of Armenia, Armen Avetisyan, wants to transfer his hotel in Tsaghkadzor to the state. He is currently facing a criminal case:

“I was informed that Armen Avetisyan’s family appealed to the State Property Management Department a few days ago and said that it will donate the Golden Palace Hotel in Tsaghkadzor to the state. A criminal case has been launched, but apparently, in the hope of changing attitudes in society, they decided to take such a step.”

Pashinyan said that if the transfer procedure is carried out, the hotel will be put up for public auction. According to the estimates of the acting prime minister, it is valued at about $20 million.

Armen Avetisyan headed the State Customs Committee during the presidency of Robert Kocharian.

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