2020 April 15

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Anti-Corruption Daily

News & Anti-Corruption -- Apr/15/2020 -- Judicial Vetting / NSS's Money Laundering Charges Against Churchman (former PM as shareholder) / Asset Forfeiture Law Amended / Civil Aviation Bombshell / Catholicos in Hot Water / Hate Speech Law Expands / Future Artsakh President / COVID and Consequences /
by ar_david_hh

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.


How will the judicial & official vetting work?

In 2019 the Venice Commission and Council of Europe advised against mass-vetting existing judges the way the govt envisioned. Instead, they recommended asset monitoring and disciplinary actions.

Then, the Constitutional Court prohibited existing judges to be vetted and fired, unless multiple new violations were made in a short period.

The govt complained that the Constitutional Court took away the Supreme Court's ability to punish judges with a poor record.

--

Recently the govt introduced a bill to establish a vetting system. WHO WILL BE VETTED, AND HOW?

1) "Morality checks" for public office and judicial candidates, done by the new Corruption Prevention Committee aka CPC. The CPC checks your Twitter feed to see if you're woke enough (no criminal affiliation etc.), then recommends the authorities to accept or reject you.

2) Existing judges will have their assets monitored by CPC.

3) The CPC, in addition to the Supreme Court, will be allowed to launch disciplinary hearing against judges.

4) Disciplinary board will no longer be consisted exclusively by fellow judges. The board, which decides whether to punish a judge, will have independent lawyers as well.

5) If a judge is suspected of poor work, the work assessment will be done by a joint group consisted of Supreme Court and independent lawyers, instead of just Supreme Court.

6) The list of reasons to launch an investigation has expanded.

7) Heads of all 915 municipalities of Armenia will be required to submit property declarations.

https://armtimes.com/hy/article/166254 , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/185670 , http://panarmenian.net/m/arm/news/270970 , https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/f5f7zv/feb172020_daily_news_collection_from_armenia_stay/ , http://arka.am/en/news/politics/heads_of_all_communities_in_armenia_are_to_submit_asset_declarations/

Tag #Vetting #JudicialReform

Asset forfeiture threshold raised / Less collateral damage

Earlier we learned that Parliament passed a govt bill to allow corruption suspects to prove they obtained >25mln-worth property legally, or else face confiscation. Govt finds this crucial for recovering stolen properties.

The govt accepted a suggestion by opposition LHK and BHK parties and submitted an amendment to raise the minimum threshold to 50mln Drams. (going after a big fish)

Another amendment will protect innocent buyers who unknowingly obtained a stolen property. Amendment says it'll be up to authorities to prove there was malice by the buyer.

Another amendment says if the recipient of the stolen property got the property as an aliment or as aid vital for their health, the authorities won't take the property from the innocent recipient.

Another bill allows law enforcement to obtain banking information about the suspect's family because many times corrupt officials funnel stolen resources through their families.

Authorities will examine property corruption dating back to 1991 years if evidence is preserved. "Mass-examinations" will be done for the past 10 years to reduce overload.

--

Justice Minister Badasyan:

For years, foreign experts advised the former regime to implement these measures, but they purposely ignored it. Now we have an opportunity to do it, and today's opposition parties should vote YES because they've been complaining about corruption for years.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/185633

Tag: #AssetForfeiture

NSS charges another churchman in offshore money laundering case

A churchman allegedly committed money laundering. This was busted in 2013 and someone was sentenced to prison. Now the NSS has more co-defendants.

The NSS report says:

In 2010 the churchman, while colluding with others, convinced businessman about the need to invest $12mln in a diamond mine that he (churchman family) owns in Africa, claiming that after investments they would make more money from diamonds.

The businessman trusted the churchmen and gave them ownership of $23mln worth properties. Churchman used the properties as collateral to get $10mln cash and loans from banks, with the intention to steal it.

To steal the cash, the churchman used an offshore firm to launder it. He owned 33% of the offshore company's shares. The other offshore shareholders were listed as former HHK Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan and archbishop Kchoyan.

In 2013, when the laundering was exposed, the churchman asked his co-defendant, who was on the run, to take all the blame, and to destroy material evidence.

Another co-defendant took the blame for it, saying PM Tigran Sargsyan and archbishop Kchoyan didn't know that he obtained shares belonging to the offshore co-owned by the PM and archbishop.

--

Basically, NSS has new charges regarding the old story. Earlier, the co-defendant was sentenced to prison. The latter claimed he involved PM Sargsyan's and archbishop's names as shareholders without their knowledge.

However, the defrauded businessman says the PM and archbishop actually had 1/3rd of offshore firm's shares, and he has proof.

The defrauded businessman was invited to the Investigative Committee to testify 6 months ago.

Archbishop Kchoyan denies wrongdoing, says it's all a lie. The charges against him were filed 2 days ago.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/185702 , https://www.azatutyun.am/a/30557461.html , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/53151 , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/185719 , https://news.am/arm/news/572825.html

Catholicos & Kocharyan / Churchman helped bribery suspect

Yesterday we learned that Garegin 2 Catholicos asked for Kocharyan to be released from jail pre-trial because of COVID risk and his age.

Pashinyan's office responded:

In a similar fashion, Armenian Church's press secretary Vahram Qahana earlier vouched for Samvel Mayrapetyan's release from jail. (Samvel Mayrapetyan is Kocharyan's media propagandist, H2 owner). Mayrapetyan is suspected of acting as a middle man for Kocharyan to get millions of dollars in bribes.

The churchman offered personal assurances that Mayrapetyan wouldn't flee Armenian if he was released pre-trial and allowed to visit EU for medical care. Mayrapetyan left Armenia and never returned. The churchman failed to keep his promise to bring him back.

PM has no comment about Catholicos' wishes about Kocharyan being free, but PM hopes the church will re-evaluate its record based on Mayrapetyan's incident. End of PM memo.

--

Catholicos responded: Some media outlets took my words out of context. No need to politicize my words about Robik.

QP MP Alen Simonyan: The people have wanted a new Catholicos for a long time now.... Where was Garegin B when Nikol and other anti-Roboserj were in jail?

Church responds to Alen: Calm down, it's irresponsible to attack the Catholicos in such manner. He has freedom of speech, too.

March 1st murder victim's father: I never received any condolences from Catholicos. Is he Rob's lawyer now?

Kocharyan lawyer: We welcome Catholicos' message. We didn't ask him to say that.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/185615 , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/185694 , https://factor.am/241163.html , https://news.am/arm/news/572803.html

future Artsakh president about Kocharyan

Arayik Harutyunyan will serve as the new Artsakh president beginning May 22nd. He received congratulations from Armenian officials.

Arayik about Kocharyan: earlier we gathered a petition to ask the judge to release Kocharyan pre-trial. But today, I think it's the Armenian justice system's business and we shouldn't meddle. We never questioned the Armenian justice system.

Roboserj media tomorrow: Arayik Harutyunyan ate a $2 sandwich distributed by George Soros NGO during a helicopter flight to France.

Who is Arayik Harutyunyan? : https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/ft6tkq/apr12020_daily_news_summary_election_results_who/?

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/185641

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/185614

hate speech law amended

Earlier we learned details about an amendment to the existing hate speech law to "close loopholes".

Incitement of violence against a group based on their gender, race, political views, poverty, religion, etc. is a crime punishable by between 50k fine to 1 year in prison (3x if done by officials).

Justice Ministry said it's impossible to specify every single instance of what will be deemed as incitement of violence, so it will be partially based on court's interpretation, but such interpretation must be made based on the fact that the purpose of the law is to punish only credible incitements with a real possibility of resulting in harm.

For example, if you sing "Enker jan gini lits" song, in which the murder of Talaat Pasha is glorified, you won't be punished for glorifying murder.

Parliament passed the amended law with a 97-14 vote.

https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/fe26y7/mar52020_your_daily_news_summarized_dont_miss/ , https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/185649 , https://factor.am/241161.html

Tag: #HateSpeechLaw

Azeri activist found guilty of hate speech

Netherlands court found that Azeri activist is guilty of hate speech for saying "Karabakh will be Armenians' graveyard". He said the words in a megaphone during a 2014 Azeri-Turkish rally against the opening of an Armenian Genocide memorial in Netherlands.

www.1lurer.am/hy/2020/04/15/Ադրբեջանցի-ազգայնամոլի-վճիռն-ուժի-մեջ-կմնա/225623

what's the status on agricultural insurances

Recently the govt implemented a new insurance system for farmers to protect against hail, frost, etc. Only 700 have applied so far.

https://news.am/arm/news/572651.html

COVID stats

9100 tested. 1111 infected (+44). 297 recovered. 17 dead (+1, pre-existing heart issues).

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/185631

domestic violence during lockdown

Armenia is no exception. Domestic violence showed signs of increase under lockdown, when couples are forced to spend more time together.

Human Rights Ombudsman says the # of reports almost rippled in the period (13 total calls).

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/185611

agriculture aid from EU

Earlier we learned that EU will provide $91mln broad aid to Armenia.

Additionally, 0.5$mln aid as part of the Green Agriculture initiative for farmers.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1012262.html

disinfectant Made in Armenia

Nalbandyan Institute of Chemical Physics says they created a next-generation chlorine-free disinfectant called Bioxil-2. The govt verified that it disinfects properly.

The initial production capacity is 1 ton per day.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1012252.html , https://www.sci.am/m/innoview.php?id=16&b=1&langid=2

some businesses to reopen soon

LHK MP: Nikol, you said you wanted to reopen construction and textile factories. What will happen if one worker gets infected? Will you shut down the whole facility again? This can't continue anymore. People need to work. They have financial issues.

Nikol: half of all infections came from 2 factories. However, there were other factories whose workers were infected, but the safety measures they had in place had prevented the spread. We're examining these factories' safety practices to apply to others. We have tutorials. 90% of work is done. We must learn to work with COVID. We can't be quarantined for years. The upcoming hot weather will give us time to prepare for Autumn's 2nd wave of COVID.

https://factor.am/241095.html

Civil Aviation bombshell

Note: Armenian Civil Aviation registered some jets. They were audited by EU. Problems were found. This doesn't apply to international jets flying to Armenia. It's only about small jets registered by Armenia.

--

LHK MP: Nikol, what's up with Civil Aviation?

Nikol: 28 jets were registered by Armenia. 18 are working abroad. 10 work in Africa (Sudan, Chad).

Those in Africa are doing cargo. The UN had repeatedly warned Armenian Foreign Ministry that Armenian jets are trafficking weapons in Africa.

EU found that CA is incapable of monitoring the safety of these airlines in Africa, because it doesn't have the legal tools. Hence the current bolola.

In 2019, EU audited Taron Avia airlines and gave the results to a CA employee. The employee hid it from CA chief Tatevik Revazyan. Revazyan only found out about the negative report during an EU conference. The employee who committed the sabotage by hiding the report, later quit CA and joined to work for Taron Avia, whom he helped with the coverup. (holy shyet?)

https://factor.am/241088.html

telemedicine after Spirak Earthquake

USSR asked NASA for aid after Spitak Earthquake of 1988. NASA conducted remote telemedicine.

Full story: https://bostonreview.net/science-nature/jeremy-greene-telemedicine-surges-will-community-health-suffer


Link to original report and comments: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/g1zgsn/news_anticorruption_apr152020_judicial_vetting/


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