2019 June 3
Anti-Corruption & News- Jun/3/19: Judge recuses... Investigators... Franklin Gonzales Sargsyan... Mayor + 3 charged in land case... Constitutional judge re-nomination... Defense Ministry under investigation... 215mln more stolen from North-South... soc-sec workers charged... Parliament adopts...more
Disclaimer: All the accused are innocent until proven guilty by the court of law, even if they may sound as being guilty. Currency in Armenian Drams unless specified otherwise.
The court has found that a pre-trial arrest is not necessary for Vahagn Harutyunyan, a former official who is accused of falsifying initial March 1st investigation materials under the previous regime, and for abuse of power.
Prosecutors are challenging the Cassation's verdict that ended the Kocharyan case and set him free. The challenge case was assigned to chief Judge Rshtuni, whom the prosecutors are accusing of being biased because he is accepting the case while having already formed an opinion before the trial even begun. The reason for the bias concern is the judge's earlier comments to media outlets in which he agreed with a verdict by another judge that freed Kocharyan.
Judge Rshtuni has agreed to recuse himself, but does not agree with the prosecutors that his earlier opinion would prevent him from being impartial.
The investigators will not press any felony charges against the activists who recently shut down the court entrances. Few judges and workers had earlier contacted the police and asked them to charge the activists.
European Council's human rights committee won't comment on the Constitutionality of Pashinyan's calls to temporarily block the court entrances, calling it an internal affair of Armenia. The committee visited to discuss justice reforms.
Serj's nephew Franklin Gonzalez is wanted for allegedly getting high and shooting his friend, before framing another man after applying pressure on the latter. He fled Armenia after last year's revolution but was arrested abroad while using a fake passport. He is currently in Czech Republic, waiting an extradition.
The Czech court has just made a verdict saying his extradition is legal and can proceed if approved by the Justice Ministry. Little reason to believe it won't be approved.
Update: Panama Paper suspect Mihran Poghosyan is awaiting a decision by Russian authorities whether he qualifies for asylum, or he should be deported to Armenia.
The judge has set a 6-month house arrest for him while he awaits. He was earlier arrested at the request of Armenian prosecutors.
Update: Special Investigative Service will not press charges against popular wrestler and QP MP Julfalakyan and his coach father. Earlier they had a personal dispute with another man, who later accused them of beating him up. Not enough evidence of felonious conduct by Julfakalyans was found.
Last year the authorities announced that they uncovered illegal land deals near Meghri free trade zone. The mayor of Karchevan was accused of illegal conduct. The prosecutors have now pressed felony charges against 4 individuals.
Prosecutors say that in 2014, the mayor of the nearby settlement karchevan, organized a phony auction with a dummy competitor to illegally give away a land at the request of someone who presented himself as a person from the [Prime Minister Hovik Muk Abrahamyan] government. The land was supposed to be used for creating/expanding the free trade zone.
The 4 individuals who have been charged are the mayor, his secretary, the representative of the auction participant company, and the person who agreed to act as a dummy competitor to make the auction look legitimate.
Update: QP MP Alen Simonyan insists that FIP outlet and it's chief Daniel Ionesyan should apologize to him for what he calls a wrong and defamatory accusations. FIP earlier published a report suggesting Simonyan didn't properly disclose his wealth, and possibly illegally enriched himself.
Simonyan denied, saying the FIP's source had incomplete data about the documents.
FIP suggested $10,000 of his funds had unclear origins and was possibly a result of illegal enrichment.
Simonyan found this defamatory and today released more details where that money came from. He sold a Mitsubishi for $11.5k. Because he didn't have enough money to buy a new $22.5k car, he opened a $16k loan account with ARKA banking, which is where the $10,000 came from. He presented the loan papers from the bank as a proof. Says the FIP didn't contact him before publishing the report, and that he would be glad to show it to them.
FIP has accepted Simonyan's explanation for the legal origins of the $10,000, but they insist that the MP violated the financial disclosure timelines last year. FIP has offered the MP to sit together and talk about it.
FIP cites the law, suggesting that the re-nomination of Vahe Grigoryan for the position of Constitutional Court judge is not against the current law. LHK and other opposition members earlier suggested that the same candidate cannot be appointed twice.
«եթե Սահմանադրական դատարանի նոր դատավոր չի ընտրվում, ապա քվեարկությունից հետո՝ մեկամսյա ժամկետում, իրավասու մարմինն առաջադրում է Սահմանադրական դատարանի դատավորի նոր թեկնածու»։
The law doesn't prohibit the re-appointment of the same individual, but he cannot be appointed multiple times in a row. At least 2 other candidates were appointed since Grigoryan's first rejection, making him eligible again for a new nomination, says FIP.
The investigators have uncovered an illegal land sale by the Defense Ministry in 2016, which resulted in 51.5mln damages to the state. (It ain't much details, but it's honest typing) https://armenpress.am/arm/news/977027.html
The investigative committee has found more instances of abuse in the North-South highway construction. A contractor company is accused of being paid 771mln but delivering only 556mln worth job. Several charges regarding falsifying purchase documents to avoid taxes.
200mln has been recovered. Several dozen million assets are frozen. The criminal investigation continues.
6 social security workers are facing felony embezzlement and abuse of power charges for allegedly stealing 4.2mln by falsifying travel records to steal the money dedicated for travel fuel expenses, between 2014-2017. The funds have been recovered.
Nature Ministry has found dozens of violations and illegal tree cutting cases by various entities during last week's examinations. 3.2mln in damages was compensated.
The Parliament held a session.
It adopted (85-16) the amended bill that places temporary 14,000 Dram tariff on Iranian cement imports. The original proposal was 22k but was reduced after internal QP dissent and negotiations with businesses. The tariff is meant to prevent Armenian producers from going bankrupt by bringing the Armenian and Iranian cements to ~equal cost.
BHK party, which heavily lobbied for a stricter version of the bill and was initially against this milder form of tariff, ended up voting in favor. This was the final vote.
The Parliament has adopted a bill that makes changes to penitentiary system. Inmate transfers will take into account the inmate's distance from relatives. They'll have more visit time. Some visitor restrictions were lifted for those who committed heavy crimes. Other reforms.
Parliament passed a LHK bill that imposes hefty fines on non-licensed loaning agencies that advertise their services. https://armenpress.am/arm/news/977034.html
BHK make a proposal to annual land property tax from those farmers who suffered from a natural disaster. The QP was against it, saying it isn't well thought out on which government body (local vs federal) should fill the financial void, how the procedure will work, and that the aid by this exemption is too small to make a difference.
QP said it is currently implementing a larger aid in the form of providing agricultural insurance against natural disasters. BHK wasn't happy with the rejection.
BHK proposed a bill that will prohibit age-based discrimination by employers during the hiring process.
QP suggested to include other forms of discrimination to the ban. For example, discrimination based on disability or political views would be prohibited (ooofff).
Still being discussed.
Parliament adopted a bill that provides aid to the victims of human trafficking. One example: underage victims will receive an 250k aid package.
Other bills were also discussed, but not finalized yet. Police officers who suffered in March 1st events but were later found guilty of crimes, will not qualify for aid intended for March 1st victims. The preliminary version of the bill about limiting sports gambling locations was passed, not final yet.
BHK boss Gagik Tsarukyan has summoned a meeting and warned the MPs that they shouldn't raise their private opinions, and that only the official party stance should be communicated with the public. This comes shortly after a BHK MP said he supported the decision to free Robert Kocharyan, causing a dissatisfaction among some.
May-2019 vs May-2018 : Yerevan municipality collected 220mln more fees from trade / sales locations. 600 locations were searched, 120 were penalized for various reasons, 74 of which for illegal street trade. 20 construction companies were fined for improper organization of the construction process.
Yerevan has begun catching and sterilizing homeless dogs. Last week 67 dogs were caught, 2 were adopted, 2 were killed, 63 had their reproductive organs blocked and released back to the streets. Experts say releasing back is better for controlling the overall dog count over the long run, and is more humane. City plans to catch 100 dogs next week.
Yerevan metro served 31k more visitors in May of this year vs last year, as a result of scheduling and other changes. It was used 1.72 million times in May.
As part of the government structural reforms, 5 ministries were eliminated and their duties merged with others. 120 of the workers from Diaspora Ministry, which no longer exists, are now part of the PM office within a body that is tasked with diaspora affairs. PM's office now has 720 workers.
QP MP Armen Yeghoyan got into an argument with a restaurant management over a lack of sales receipt. Here is his version of the story:
He had a dinner with his GF in Ashtaraki Dzor restaurant. After paying for it, they were not issued a receipt (necessary to assure taxes are paid, major part of QP agenda). The cashier said he should talk to the director about it.
While the director was being called, the cashier printed the receipt. Director came, MP asked why their restaurant doesn't issue receipts. Director said they do print it but don't always give it to customers, and that the MP can call the authorities if he has a problem with that. MP told him that the law requires the receipt to be given to the customer, and not just a verbal reassurance that it's being printed.
According to MP, the director became agitated. MP's GF begun filming the encounter. A worker didn't like being filmed and tried to stop it. It escalated into MP being pushed out of the restaurant. Director made some phone calls and threatened the MP to settle things the hard way. The director also called the police. The MP went to police station and explained the situation. The MP says the IRS should investigate this. End of MP's story.
Kotayk governor has once again sharply criticized BHK party, accusing it of clinging on Abovyan city's political seats through the threats of using their business powers to fire people from jobs, if they don't support for BHK. He accused them of using "old tactics".
Earlier, multiple reports came in about a taxi driver being fired from a BHK owned taxi business for being seen near a QP office, and BHK-owned business workers receding threats about about appearing in QP rallies.
Abovyan city will have mayoral elections in June 9th. It is where BHK chief Gagik Tsarukyan is from. It's their "stronghold". The mayoral candidates are the incumbent from BHK, a QP opponent, and 2 independent ones.
Heno Mkhitaryan will have a postal stamp dedicated to him https://armtimes.com/hy/article/162959
Yesterday Artsakh held the opening ceremony of Conaf, the soccer competition between unrecognized republics. A segment from the opening ceremony : https://armtimes.com/hy/article/162963
A new airline company has entered the business. Armenian Airways will provide Yerevan-Tehran flights for $144 beginning mid-June. It operates 2 British-made jets at the moment.
Partial source https://armenpress.am/arm/news/977040.html
Ukraine's newly elected president Zelensky also wants asset forfeiture laws to be applied on officials. He wants any account balance above $33,000 to be proved as being legal, or risk being confiscated.
Link to original report: https://old.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/bwfyns/anticorruption_news_jun319_judge_recuses/
|2018 Daily Armenia Reports|
|2019 Daily Armenia Reports|