2020 April 28

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Anti-Corruption Daily

Dodi Gago's director charged with $22mln bribery / What is happening with UCOM? / Govt intervenes / Shareholders implicated / Offshore / Recovering the stolen
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.


oof we haven't had such a spicy story since the corona

Dodi Gago's director charged with $22mln bribery / What is happening with UCOM? / Govt intervenes / Shareholders implicated / Offshore / Recovering the stolen

We have to start from the beginning...

Who is Sedrak Arustamyan? He is BHK party chief Dodi Gago's right-hand man and the director of his largest business Multi Group. He is a suspect in at least 3 felony investigations.

Arustamyan is so important to Gago that earlier Pashinyan accused Gago of retaliating and launching a black PR against Pashinyan administration after charges were pressed against Arustamyan.

--

1st charge

Dodi Gago's Multi Group is building a hotel on Abovyan St. In 2020, director Arustamyan was charged with illegally continuing the construction despite being told to stop.

--

2nd charge

In 2019 he was charged with organizing a North-South highway construction fraud to embezzle hundreds of millions from the state. He was arrested then released on bail.

--

3rd charge

In 2020, last week, the court gave a warrant for his arrest after new charges. It's about a 2011 incident in which he allegedly gave $22mln bribe to ex-IRS boss Gagik Khachatryan (Serj administration).

--

NSS about the 2011 incident:

Arustamyan gave $22.4mln bribe to ex-IRS boss Khachatryan with the help of Khachatryan's sons. (FYI: Khachatryan's sons own most of UCOM ISP shares). The bribe was given so the IRS wouldn't audit [Gago's] businesses, and for not causing other problems.

To hide the illegal origins of the received bribe, Khachatryan's sons asked Arustamyan to launder it through an offshore firm belonging to Khachatryan's sons. Then, fake loan contracts were signed with the offshore firm to funnel the cash.

--

Arustamyan denies giving a bribe to Khachatryan's sons. He says the money was a loan with a 4% interest rate but it was never returned, making it look as if he gave a bribe.

--

While this was happening, another massive drama was unfolding around UCOM ISP. UCOM's founder Yesayan is trying to buy back the company from Khachatryan's sons.

The deal collapsed, and Khachatryan's sons kicked out founder Yesayan, who decided to launch a new ISP.

--

It appears the govt is going after Khachatryan's sons for their alleged money laundering. Govt believes Khachatryan's sons UCOM shares are tied to the embezzled property.

--

Khachatryan's sons released a statement:

Govt officials are illegally pressuring us to give away UCOM and IUnetworks companies. The assets are frozen (govt earlier froze Khachatryan family assets due to felony charges). Govt is threatening to destabilize UCOM unless we sell it. They began threatening with felony actions against my family. The Human Rights Ombudsman and NGOs should intervene.

--

Yesayan responded to Khachatryan's sons:

My attempt to buy back UCOM from you has nothing to do with the legal problems you and your father have with the government. The govt isn't using me to take your business away.

--

Pashinyan spokeswoman explains the UCOM story:

Pashinyan used to make speeches about returning the money stolen by the former regime, and specifically ex-IRS boss Gagik Khachatryan. After one of those speeches, Khachatryan's sons came forwards and agreed to return the stolen property.

We know that Khachatryan's family was at the whelm of years-long fraud and mafia scheme, which generated hundreds of millions of dollars, all of which will be returned to the public (damn?).

As for UCOM sale, the law says the govt must authorize such sales before they proceed.

After UCOM's founder Yesayan asked to buy Khachatryan's sons shares, the govt intervened and announced that any money generated from the shares sold by Khachatryan's sons, will be confiscated because they are a laundered property.

This is a standard confiscation procedure when a property has illegal origins. (aka founder Yesayan pays $180mln to buy the UCOM shares from Khachatryan sons, but that $180mln goes to state budget instead of Khachatryan pocket).

Any public official, who takes advantage of this process for personal gain, will be punished. This is why Pashinyan repeatedly said he isn't happy about the slow progress in these big investigations.

Govt has evidence that other UCOM shares were illegally obtained by President Serj Sargsyan's son-in-law (media magnate) Mikael Minasyan. Pashinyan expects Serj's family to be properly investigated as well.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/186662

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/186634

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/186404

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/186660

https://hetq.am/hy/article/116416

https://factor.am/243824.html

https://factor.am/244898.html

Tag: #SedrakArustamyan #GodDamn #UCOM #UCOMshareholder #GagikKhachatryan

Crucial anti-corruption law to be discussed in Constitutional Court

Sometimes officials steal property but register it under a family members' name. To allow anti-corruption and asset recovery, govt recently passed a bill to allow prosecutors to audit a suspect's family's banking info.

President Armen Sarkissian sent the bill to Constitutional Court instead of directly signing it.

Constitutional Court, led by HHK, decided to delay the bill's hearing until July 16th. "More research is needed."

https://news.am/arm/news/575201.html

Pashinyan about utility fees

Govt earlier passed an aid package to subsidize a portion of utility fees for some groups. Utility companies said they wouldn't cut off service if the fees weren't paid, but they reversed that decision later.

Pashinyan said:

When it was announced that the services wouldn't be disconnected, many large and non-poor users (and businesses) decided to take advantage and not to pay.

This could bring the energy system on the brink of collapse, so we instructed the Utilities Commission to start enforcing payments again. Immediately, 7bln cash was collected when the large users were reminded to pay.

Who got disconnected for not paying?

736 out of 623,000 gas users, for not paying >80k Drams.

4,300 out of 775,000 electricity users, for not paying >30k Drams.

You can never solve both problems. We will either have a functional utility system, or some users will be disconnected.

So far, 300,000 users didn't have their electricity cut off because of 12th and 13th aid packages passed earlier.

http://www.panarmenian.net/arm/news/280579/

LHK suggests giving free cash

LHK chief Marukyan suggests giving 100,000 Dram direct payments to families.

A QP MP said a decision like that needs a proper financial examination.

--

LHK Marukyan said:

There are 500k families who don't work in the public sector. We should give them 100,000 each. We should give a 1-month worth pension to each of 470k seniors. All of this will only cost 100bln. Luckily the govt has 200bln available cash right now. Why aren't they giving it to the struggling people?

Finance Minister responded to LHK:

The 200bln funds you mention are not legally possible to be given away. Additionally, the economy cannot absorb 1.5 trillion Drams as suggested. This is why govt's stimulus/aid is 150bln.

QP MP Alen responded to LHK:

Govt is already giving aid as part of 14 packages. 48bln distributed so far. We must understand who gets the money. When you said "luckily the govt has 200bln", it wasn't a result of luck, it was a result of our past 2 years' work. I can do populism, too: let's give away 250,000 cash instead of 100,000.

--

During another discussion, the conversation diverted and got out of hand. The MPs threw personal attacks. QP Alen accused LHK Marukyan of being a coward who didn't join QP against HHK sometime in the past, during "crucial times".

QP Alen: Go say hi to your buddy Serj.

LHK Marukyan: be quiet, you low-energy.

QP Alen: relax, political mop.

More foul language was used. The QP MP later apologized.

🍿🍿🍿🍿🍿🍿

https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=696102514264932

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/186670

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/186673

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/186707

https://factor.am/244622.html

http://arka.am/en/news/economy/minister_armenian_economy_unable_to_absorb_1_5_trillion_drams_/

COVID situation

Healthcare Minister Torosyan:

The growth has remained 3-5%. We partially succeeded in flattening the curve. We bought time to improve our healthcare system. Keep your distance from others, wash hands, wear a mask.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/186699

economy to gradually re-open / govt relaxes restrictions

Pashinyan says most economic activities will resume within 10 days, then they'll be removed sometime afterward.

You will be able to walk within a 1km radius from your home, including with kids, do cycling, etc. with the still-required paperwork.

Restaurants and other parts of the economy will slowly reopen. The education sector will remain closed.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/186640

Some businesses began opening locations

Viva-MTS telecom reopened 20 of its customer service locations. https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/186625

--

Dentists can return to work with safety measures. https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/186695

--

Gloria fabric has permission to operate. Last week its workers demanded resumption of services. Gloria's director applied for permission to operate and received it. https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/186725

Did the sales receipt printing plummet?

People complain that many businesses started not to print IRS-visible sales receipts to evade taxes during COVID. We only have the March stats (emergency began in the 2nd half of March).

More receipts, but less money...

Mar/2019: 35.2 million receipts worth 145bln.

Mar/2020: 36.4 million receipts worth 139bln.

The IRS examined 1027 businesses in March/April and finished 180 of them, out of which 145 had violations.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/186593

How much material damage was done by Genocide?

The material damages as of 2008 where $300bln. If that money was in a bank with 5% interest, the lost wealth would equal to $10 trillion today. This doesn't count the profit that could be made by investing the money in businesses.

There would be 20 million Armenians living now.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1013601.html

Banking crisis deepens in Azerbaijan

Yesterday their Central Bank took control of 4 major commercial banks that were facing liquidity.

Today they revoked licenses from 2 of those banks' services.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1013718.html

Armenian Central Bank...

... cut the refinancing rate by 0.25% down to 5%. The inflation in March was 0.5%, up by 0.4% YoY.

http://arka.am/en/news/economy/armenian_central_bank_cuts_refinancing_rate_by_0_25_to_5_/

Yerevan is replacing...

...elevators in apartment complexes. 500 of the worst elevators will be prioritized. Contracts will be signed this year, and the work will begin later.

Mayor Marutyan: only ~35 elevators were replaced after the fall of CCCP. We managed to create a 500-unit replacement program during the past 1.5 years of work. 20 already replaced.

https://factor.am/244863.html

Yerevan names...

... a park near Circus after Soviet-Armenian artist Leonid Yengibaryan. He died at the age of 37 in 1972.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/186635

Yerevan will install...

...the statue of Indian peace-loving politician and spiritual leader Mahatma Ghandi, sponsored by the Indian embassy. It'll be in Halabyan-Margaryan park.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/186638

Yerevan gave tax breaks...

...worth 2.5mln to TUMO tech center to pardon property tax.

...worth 9.4mln to the Union of Artists to pardon their 2017-2020 property taxes.

...worth 3.2mln to the Union of the Blind as property tax pardon.

...worth 6.5mln property tax pardon to Journalists Union because they're in a legal procedure and have financial hardship.

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/186677

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/186679

https://www.armtimes.com/hy/article/186683

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1013715.html

Yerevan transferred...

...440mln worth 15ha land to Justice Ministry so it can build a new jail and a jail hospital, to replace the aging notorious Nubarashen facility.

https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1013714.html


Link to original report and comments: https://www.reddit.com/r/armenia/comments/g9tx3u/apr282020_todays_news_massive_22mln_bribery_story/


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