2019 April 5
Anti-Corruption Apr/5/2019: 626 museum items missing due to government negligence on 2016...... SPAYKA vs IRS full story....... SIS won't investigate 1998 election rigging claim....... Water company 263mln........ Gas stations being investigated...... Parliament cuts its upkeep costs...... NSS
All the accused are innocent until proven guilty by the court of law. Currency in Armenian Drams unless specified otherwise.
The investigators found that on 2016, the Culture Ministry decided to merge two gov-funded museums together. The items in one museum were supposed to be transferred to the other. The Minister created a committee that would take care of that, but the transfer wasn't done properly. Also, one of the museums never kept a proper record of the inventory each year, breaking the law.
On 2018-2019, the government audited and found that 626 important paintings and other items were missing from the collection, including a painting by Martiros Saryan, which is worth 60mln on the market. Total of 120mln worth items went missing.
3 felony abuse of power charges are files.
(Last year we learned that Serj's nephew had a stolen Martiros Saryan painting, which was recovered by the NSS. It's not clear whether this is a related story.)
Serj-linked SPAYKA's director was not arrested yesterday, he was called for a questioning. The authorities are currently seeking an arrest warrant against him . The company is accused of dodging 7bln in taxes.
Last year, SPAYKA was caught hiding 2bln, but were given an opportunity to pay the funds and avoid felony charges. CEO says they partially paid that money and IRS gave them a "pardon". The investigation, however, wasn't over and it appears that IRS found more instances of tax dodging since the last revelations.
The CEO of SPAYKA doesn't believe this is a political persecution, but disagrees with IRS' findings, calling the 7bln number "overblown, containing misleading VAT numbers", and an "unfair treatment by IRS". IRS denies the exaggeration claim, says the 7bln number is accurate, presenting some EAEU and other customs related laws about VAT (Value Added Tax).
IRS says SPAYKA decided to import large quantities of cheese and fruits on 2014-2016. The products were supposed to come from EU through Georgia. When SPAYKA's load entered Georgia, their paperwork was done properly and it accurately showed what items they were transporting, and their real value.
However, upon reaching the Armenian border from Georgia, SPAYKA falsified the documents to make the load appear cheaper, and used another company called GreenProduce controlled by SPAYKA's administration, to split the load and further avoid taxes. IRS cooperated with "foreign countries" in the case, says IRS boss Ananyan.
IRS says this was just the 2014-2016 audit. They are going to examine the 2017 and 2018 records as well. SPAYKA CEO is facing one count of felony tax avoidance.
Former deputy Defense Minister Vahan Shirkhanyan earlier accused Robert Kocharyan of rigging the 1998 elections and violating citizenship laws at the time of becoming the president.
The SIS begun investigating it. Today, they decided to end the investigation, citing the statue of limitations for the alleged vote rigging (over 20 years ago). As for the passport violation allegations, the investigators say they aren't going to re-examine that case, and will leave the 2000 investigation's results in place, which couldn't found enough evidence to press charges against Rob.
The police says they've uncovered a corruption scheme by a provincial water utility "Kotayk", enabled by the gross negligence of Nature ministry workers, done on 2017-2018.
The water utility didn't require the water consumers to install water meters, and instead, charged them money by the number of hectares of lands they owned, which is against the law. As a result, water was used without being paid for.
They also added the 5-30% natural water losses to the books as if they were used by the customers. This has caused 263mln in damages to the customers and the state.
The utility director is also accused of stealing 4mln by falsifying his agency's gov-funded transportation fuel needs. A criminal case is launched against multiple individuals for abuse of power.
(Last month the authorities discovered a similar 1bln abuse case.)
The Market Inspection body is investigating 5 gas stations, after several customers complained that they were getting less fuel for the money. The results will be available in a few days.
Pashinyan says the decision to spend 2.3bln on salary bonuses for thousands of IRS and border customs workers is not only legal but also justified, because these workers are set to bring 40bln more money to the budget than expected, which will be used to raise salaries for teachers and soldiers including in Gyumri, build more roads to Gyumri, do more subsidy programs for the residents of Gyumri, etc. (Context: While in Gyumri, a journalist asked if it's normal for Gyumri budget to be 3bln, while IRS workers get 2.3bln salaries.)
Spending reforms stats.
Spending on Q1 of 2019, compared to Q1 of 2018. The Parliament cut its expenditures on representatives by 75%. Service cars have been cut by 44%. Costs on fuel cut by 34%. Cost on cellphone service cut by 30%. Landline phone spending down 71%. Food spending down 11%.
NSS and Hay Football Federation chief Vanetsyan says they plan to open unprecedented 57 soccer fields this year. Armenia will host the 2019 European Youth soccer championship in 100 days. HFF is still negotiating with private investors about a new large stadium in Yerevan, to "replace" the Hrazdan Stadium.
Vansetyan says Pashinyan's relative is accused of falsifying some documents. No specific details. Yesterday we learned that PM said he informed the NSS about a possible crime by one of his relatives, and a case was launched.
Vanetsyan says the operator of a fake Facebook account titled "Duxov Hayastan Open Society" (title sounds like an official QP account, but it isn't). The man is accused of breaking laws in comments/posts about ethnicity, religion and other protected classes. Felony charges are pending. NSS will release more info later.
This comes a day after Pashinyan complained that some people, under the name of Pashinyan's movement, spread false information to disturbed the public, and incite violence towards others on the internet.
This isn't the first time the law enforcement investigates internet users. Last year, during the heated elections, several opposition politicians complained that they and their families were receiving death threats.
Pashinyan formally signs a decree to create a dedicated committee tasked with improving the demographics. The population is 2.972mln. QP hopes to see it doubled by 2040.
The second "brand new" electric train begins its operations between Yerevan-Gyumri. It'll work on weekends too, in an express regime without stops. The travel time is 2h10m, ticket costs AMD 2.5k.
A transgender woman was given the Parliament floor today, during BHK-led Parliamentary Human Rights Protections Committee session, led by Naira Zohrabyan.
The speaker says it is unprecedented that a transgender person is given a floor on Parliament, and this would be impossible to imagine few months ago. The speaker spoke about the abuse the transgender people have been receiving, and called for the police to do their job properly while investigating the crimes.
BHK Zohrabyan wasn't happy. She says the reason the transgender activist was given the role of a speaker was to discuss about something else, and Zohrabyan feels "used" that the transgender speaker spoke about something else.
Pashinayan yells at a few MPs for getting into a language argument with the Gyumri mayor while on front of the cameras. ծծ ՝էէէէէէէէէէէէէէէէ
Link to original report: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/b9w6n8/anticorruption_apr52019_626_museum_items_missing/
|2018 Daily Armenia Reports|
|2019 Daily Armenia Reports|