Friday, 21 September

Where Did Millions Paid for a Lake Sevan Monitoring Ship Go?

Last year Hetq published an article about how a resident of the Aragatzotn village of Sasounik was incarcerated for stealing wheat from a neighbor’s basement. He stole the flour to feed his four hungry children. The villager was sent to jail and released a few months later under the general amnesty provisions.

What does one, two or three sacks of flour cost? Ten or twenty thousand drams at best? Now, dear readers, let me tell you how certain government officials have pocketed more than 100,000,000 AMD and gotten away scot free. Anyone who steals a sack of flour will quickly wind up behind bars in Armenia, but nothing happens to government officials who “appropriate” millions from the state budget.

These are the accepted rules of the game in Armenia; the actual laws at work in the republic. If this wasn’t the case, at the very least a handful of government officials would be behind bars today. In May of 2010 the State Interests Protection Department of the RA Prosecutor General’s Office initiated criminal proceedings against the director of the Armenian State Hydro-Meteorological Service (ASHMS) and the Ministry of Nature Protection’s Department of Economics for abuse of their office.

The ASHMS was supposed to have procured a ship for hydrological and meteorological monitoring of Lake Sevan. In 2006, 153 million AMD was earmarked by the state budget and the amount was later paid to Kamar Ltd.  It later turns out that Kamar purchased a However, it was found out that Kamar CJSC bought a BMP-74M fishing vessel, not a special monitoring ship, from Akhtarskaya Sudoverf CJSC (Russia) for 47 million AMD.

Sona Truzyan, Press Secretary at the Prosecutor General’s Office, informed us that the case was still being investigated by the General Investigative Department of the Armenian Police.

Below is the reply of the Prosecutor General’s Office: The head of the administrative-economic department of the Armenian Nature Protection Ministry, who was authorized to accept the vessel, failed to carry out his official duties, and at the instruction of the director of the Armenian State Hydro-Meteorological Service and without an appropriate examination, confirmed in writing that the BMP-74M vessel was valued at 153 million AMD and met the technical characteristics specified in the agreement.

This was not the case. As a result, the vessel was transferred to the assets of the Armenian Nature Protection Ministry, and this caused considerable damage to the state's interests. Taking into account the fact that there are components of crime in the actions of the director of Kamar CJSC, chief accountant, director of the Armenian State Hydro-Meteorological Service, and head of the administrative-economic department of the Nature Protection Ministry, the Department for Protection of State Interests of the Armenian Prosecutor General's Office has instituted a criminal case under Article 178 Item 1 Part 3 (fraud), and Article 308 Part 2 (abuse of office) of the Criminal Code of Armenia. During the pre-trial examination, H. Vardanyan, one of those charged, has partially compensated for the loss to the state by depositing 33 million AMD into the account of the RA Prosecutor General.

The RA Police also report that fraud charges have been brought against Kamar Ltd Director H. Vardanyan. We remind readers that the relevant documents in the case were signed by various officials at the Nature Protection Ministry. None of them have yet to be charged for any infractions. They continue to work at their same jobs or at other posts; ever adept at embezzling more tax payer money.

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