Wednesday, 19 September

How to Make a Million

Former Minister for Environmental Protection Vardan Ayvazyan issued 7 licenses on the same day - December 19, 2005 - for the exploration of 4 sectors of the Hankavan mine area and 3 sectors of Meghradzor in theprovinceofKotayk, to a company called Interier, founded by his assistant Tigran Krmoyan.

Tigran Krmoyan was an assistant to the Minister for Environmental Protection Vardan Ayvazyan until October 6, 2006. Interier received the licenses for geological exploration with a term of validity up to September 30, 2008.

However, in 2006, a new company called Golden Ore came on the scene in the Hankavan mine area. It was registered in October 2006 with aYerevanaddress ofMashtots Avenue2/2. Hripsime Mikaelyan was listed as the company's founder. She was the administrator of Hotel Metropol, as well as the sister-in-law (the wife's sister) of Minister of Transport and Communication Andranik Manukyan.

The director of Golden Ore is Gayane Torozyan. She had been the head of the legal department at the Ministry of Transport and Communication from 2002 to 2005, and has been an advisor to Andranik Manukyan from 2005 to this day. The address where the company is registered is that of Hotel Metropol. And Metropol, it is common knowledge, is owned by Andranik Manukyan (See: False Information That Was Paid For).

Former Minister for Environmental Protection Vardan Ayvazyan gave this company a statement and prepared all the necessary documents, on the basis of which the Ministry of Trade and Economic Development gave Golden Ore the license to exploit 42 hectares of land with previously established mineral reserves over a period of 25 years. This was given on September 14, 2006, just 4 months after the company was registered.

According to our information, former Minister of Trade and Economic Development Karen Chshmarityan did not want to give the company a license for exploitation because there were irregularities in the documents and the exploration license provided by the Minister for Environmental Protection. But it was very likely that he was pressured into doing so. When we tried to take a look at the documents presented by the Minister for Environmental Protection at the concession agency of the Ministry of Trade and Economic Development, we were told that we were not authorized to do so. They had been warned by the Ministry for Environmental Protection. It is difficult, of course, to guess what secrets those documents hold. These documents were not sufficient to give a license for exploitation to a company, especially if the license for exploration had earlier been given to another company.

According to the program presented by Golden Ore to the Ministry of Trade and Economic Development, Golden Ore is going to invest a sum of 10,627,000,000 drams.

The company has paid the state 10 million drams in taxes. The company also asked Armenian Forests to carry out a deforestation program in Hankavan and the request has been accepted, but no trees have been cut down yet.

According to data provided to Hetq in July 2007 by the concession agency of the Ministry of Trade and Economic Development, the mineral reserves at Hankavan constitute 137.2 million tons of ore. Molybdenum makes up 0.054% or 114,727 thousand tons, while copper constitutes 0.55% of its ore or 22,461 thousand tons. But it is also known that there are large reserves of gold in Hankavan, but there is nothing mentioned about this in the statements of the Ministry for Environmental Protection or the concession agency. An expert in the mining industry told us that back in the Soviet days, the reserves of gold at Hankavan were estimated at around 31 tons.

On April 23, 2007 Golden Ore founder Hripsime Mikaelyan left the company and the directorship was taken over by a share company called Madneuli. Our information suggests that Golden Ore was sold to this company for a sum of US$ 6 million. The state did not receive one red cent from this transaction but Andranik Manukyan and Vardan Ayvazyan definitely received their shares of profit. Of course, the corresponding authorities know all about this transaction. This is how our ministers do business and make money – they use their positions as minister for this sole purpose.

Madneuli is registered inGeorgia, in the Kazrethi area of the Bolnisi region. This company has already bought 84.2% of shares in the Ararat Gold Recovery Company. As to who are the real owners of this company registered inGeorgiaand what a scandalous past it has had in other countries – we will present all that in the near future.

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