Friday, 21 September

President Sargsyan Has Launched Pre-Election “House Cleaning”



Ethical violations have little to do with sacking of mayor and minister

If Mihran Poghosyan, Chief of Armenia’s Compulsory Enforcement Service (CES), had been disciplined in a timely fashion for his crime, he wouldn’t be beating anyone today. Perhaps Hetq readers will remember the "banana scandal" of late. Due to the savvy of Poghosyan, Armenia reported that it had exported 3,59t tons of bananas to the Bahamas. Naturally, it was all a ruse, with forged documents and all.

Perhaps Hetq readers will remember the "banana scandal" of late. Due to the savvy of Poghosyan, Armenia reported that it had exported 3,59t tons of bananas to the Bahamas. Naturally, it was all a ruse, with forged documents and all.

Ketrin, the company doing the exporting, is owned by Grisha Harutyunyan, Deputy Chief of Armenia’s National Security Service, and a guy named...Mihran Poghosyan. What a coincidence. During 2005 – 2007, Ketrin imported 6,500 tons of bananas for reprocessing and eventual export. It was thus freed from customs duties and VAT.

But Ketrin never exported any reprocessed banana product from Armenia. The company had forged documents alleging that it produced banana oil and exported the product to the Bahamas. Due to this manipulation of the fact, Ketrin avoided paying about $1.479 million to the government.

The company also sold the 6.5 tons of bananas in Armenian markets without any paperwork. Official figures show that in 2007, 17,200 tons of bananas were imported to Armenia. Of course, this doesn’t mean that Armenians started to eat double the amount of bananas as the year before.

The 8,000 ton difference of the preceding years was just never reported. Harutyunyan and Poghosyan used their illicit gains to invest in luxury building construction.

Most everyone in government knew what was going on – the National Security Service, tax authorities, Prosecutor General, etc. When the word got out, Grisha Poghosyan was given the boot. Sometime later, Mihran Poghosyan was appointed the CES Deputy Chief, and on June 11, 2008, Serzh Sargsyan promoted him to head the agency.

Let’s return to the present. A need has arisen to make changes to the RA Criminal Code. Why? Because RA Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan, finding out that Mihran Poghosyan physically beat one of his subordinates, Colonel Ruben Mirakyan, had directed then Minister of Justice Gevorg Danielyan to discipline the CES head. (The CES falls under the jurisdiction of the Justice Ministry.)

Minister Danielyan couldn’t follow through because he knew that Poghosyan was an important businessman. But Prime Minister Sargsyan had stated that Poghosyan had violated the professional code of ethics. Now, they want to change the law to reflect such breaches of conduct. But the dismissal of Gevorg Danielyan had nothing to do with this affair as officially presented. Poghosyan was appointed by Serzh Sargsyan himself. I believe that President Sargsyan is doing some house cleaning and has launched his "reform" program.

The president has few trusted allies in his corner. They can be counted on the fingers of one hand; maybe two. The president is quite aware of this. In the run up to the parliamentary elections scheduled for 2012, President Sargsyan has made his intentions clear. He’s started with sacking Yerevan Mayor Beglaryan and Minister Danielyan. One can safely wager that there will be more shakeups in the offing.


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