2019 January 22
Anti-Corruption Jan/22/2019: Facts about bonus payments /// Former Minister and several other officials under investigation for land theft /// Manvel Grigoryan is back in jail /// Possible corruption during apartment distribution for earthquake survivors /// IRS vs pharmacy /// Chocolate /// More...
All the accused are innocent until proven guilty by the court of law. Currency in Armenian Drams unless specified otherwise.
Investigation Committee is investigating an abuse of power by high ranking officials for the intention of stealing 50 hectares of land from the state, during 2006-2007.
Investigators have found that Kotayk's former governor submitted falsified documents to the territorial Ministry, which incorrectly stated that the lands weren't categorizes as protected forests, which would otherwise prohibit the privatization process.
On 2007, several other (now former) high ranking officials - acting as a group - participated in the fraud. The suspects are the chief of land management working at Kotayk governor's office, Minister of Territorial Management, Hayantar gov-run organization's director, real estate cadastre chief.
The higher court has found the lower court's decision to release Manvel Grigoryan with bail as invalid. He has returned to jail. He was charged with various forms of theft.
He reported a possible embezzlement and corruption during this distribution. For example, records show that 6 apartments were issued under one case in which 1 apartment was needed for 1 family.
In another instance, he says an official wrote that some temporary trailers where families used to live before receiving apartments weren't actually dismantled, while the official falsified the documents stating they were. (In past, some have claimed that some families received apartments but continued to live in these tent-trailers).
Facts about bonus payments.
Yerevan municipality has also issued annual bonus payments worth $974k to its employees. The municipality did not publish the individual names, because the law prohibits the release of such personal information. The employees are allowed to voluntarily disclose the information. One former official, stating her opinion, says it's a grey area and it could be possible to publish the names. The Municipality had consulted Justice Ministry and only published the sum.
Provincial governors had also paid year-end bonuses to employees.
Three of the employees (out of hundreds) who received bonuses had worked less than 6 months, thus did not qualify for bonuses, research shows. Ararat governor's bonus was 104%, but FIP claims it was supposed to be capped at 100% during a single bonus-issuing ceremony.
The law says the worker can receive bonus payments up to 3 times a year, so the annual maximum is 300% of salary. It is unclear why Ararat governor's bonus ended up being calculated equaling 104% instead of 100%. Because he voluntarily spoke about the payment, and we're talking about a ~AMD 24k difference which is rather small, it is unlikely that corruption is involved.
While paying bonuses is legal and have always been distributed to workers, some have argued that it's unethical for politicians to pay themselves, or to the employees who have been working for only 6 months. Some others have attempted to incorrectly label the bonuses as an illegal theft by the officials.
There are others who argue that bonuses are justified because the salaries are too low, or the idea that the offices had managed to save funds throughout the year is an indicator of efficient work, thus justifies a complementary gift to employees.
Yerevan municipality has saved 7 billion ($14,4 million) in the past 3 months alone, says mayor Hayk Marutyan.
The funds dedicated for luxury food for guests (chocolate, other) has been cut in half, and will be cut further, says the mayor. This was in response to a question asking to explain why records show that 1.5 million was spent on chocolate and food.
IRS could shut down a pharmacy store "Nar" belonging to a former HHK MP family for the second time, after it was caught avoiding taxes through not printing receipts, for the second time.
PM Pashinyan is in Davos international business forum. He met Asian Development Bank chief, Apple CEO Tim Cook, Mitsubishi representative whom he invited to do business, JICA and eBay representatives. The latter agreed to visit Armenia with a possible business plan.
Pashinyan met the chief of European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, spoke about widening the cooperation. The chief agreed to visit Armenia this year and hold talks around new agreements.
High-tech firm DataArt wants to open a center in Armenia. They provide financial, healthcare, tourism and other services in various countries.
This year, the government will help to create a network consisted of 23 electric car charging stations which will cover the whole country. Earlier, they removed the taxation from electric car imports for 3 years to encourage cleaner environment.
Some convenience stores have decided to no longer sell cigarettes. The tax on products like cigarettes and alcohol had increased since January 1st. As a result, the shops no longer make enough revenue from it to justify carrying it, even though the sales numbers are high.
Russian military base in Armenia is conducting aviation exercises. Hundreds of soldiers and dozens of birds will conduct enemy observation, detection and termination.
Israeli journalist Alexander Lapshin, who was arrested by Azerbaijani government for visiting Artsakh Republic and criticizing Azerbaijani government, is in Yerevan. He is currently suing Azerbaijan in European courts for his arrest.
During a press conference he spoke about plans to make a new documentary about Azeri army firing towards bordering Armenian villages, and that he is awaiting for an authorization from the Defense Ministry.
He believes Aliyev doesn't truly want lands. He just wants to have an active conflict so he can present Armenia as a villain for internal consumption, says Lapshin.
After an international condemnation and mass protests in Baku, Azerbaijani president Ilham Aliyev has instructed the authorities to drop the charges against blogger Mehman Husseinov, who was arrested for exposing government corruption few years earlier.
Christiano Ronaldo will pay 19 million Euros fine and receive 23 months of suspended sentence for avoiding taxes in Portugal. I guess you can say he isn't worse than Leonel Messi in this regard.
Link to original report: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/ait7ug/anticorruption_jan222019_facts_about_bonus/
|2018 Daily Armenia Reports|
|2019 Daily Armenia Reports|