Wednesday, 19 September

All In the Family: Armenian Prime Minister’s Booming Business Empire



Armenian Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamyan currently owns more than fifty businesses in Armenia, butnone are officially registered under his name.

Abrahamyan owns them via proxies – his family members. (He’s married, has three children and seven grandchildren)

This way he’s not in violation of the Armenian Constitution prohibiting government officials from engaging in commercial enterprise while in office.

 During a May 15 cabinet session Abrahamyan   declared that the government had adopted measures to create a level economic playing field for all and that all entrepreneurs must work on and equal footing.

Prime Minister’s Verbal Gaffe

The prime minister then put his foot in his mouth by declaring: “And I want to say that I will start with myself, so that all understand the need for equality.” In essence, Abrahamyan stated that he too was a businessman who hadn’t been playing fairly up till then.

While the prime minister doesn’t officially own any businesses, his financial disclosures, which all top officials must submit yearly, tell quite another story.

For example, Hovik Abrahamyan’s financial disclosure as of April 13, 2014 (the day he became prime minister) shows 269 million AMD (US$656,642) and US$1.940 million in bank deposits. Revenues are listed as 4,110,330 AMD (the prime minister’s yearly salary) and an additional 40 million AMD (US$97,642) as “other income”.

No one can say what the sources of this “other income” are. The Commission on Ethics of High-Ranking Officials, the oversight body that receives such disclosures, sees fit not to ask.

When you look at Abrahamyan’s official bio, one seeks that the prime minister’s last job in the private sector was way back in 1995 as the director of the Artashat Wine and Brandy Factory. He’s been in public service, in various capacities, ever since.

The question thus arises, how did Abrahamyan and his wife become millionaires?

Hovik Abrahamyan’s private house in Mkhchyan village

On May 21 of this year, when the parliament was debating the government’s economic reform package, MP Nikol Pashinyan directly asked Abrahamyan how he became so rich if he wasn’t engaged in business.

The prime minister responded that Pashinyan shouldn’t take such a “negative stance” towards business, adding that: “As to my assets, I’ve never concealed the fact that I own things. I’ve revealed it all according to the letter of the law in detail. I worked in those years in the agricultural sector, back when it was permissible. During my various government posts, I never acquired any holdings and neither did I accrue them through corrupt practices.”

Prime Minister’s Missing Nine Years

Abrahamyan’s bio states that his first job from 1990 to 199 working as division head of the Burastan Brandy Factory. It also states that he graduated from the Yerevan Institute of National Economy, but no dates are given.

If, as stated, the prime minister was born in 1958, entered the institute at the age of 18 and then spent five years studying there, we arrive at the year 1981. So what did Abrahamyan do in the interveningnine years before getting a job at Burastan?

Prime Minister Abrahamyan first worked here

In his native village of Mkhchyan, a senior resident told me that Abrahamyan worked as a laborer at an auto repair shop before Burastan. The old man even showed me the place which now belongs to Abrahamyan’s family according to workers we talked to there.

The Abrahamyans must have other income sources than agriculture

The only proof that Abrahamyan is engaged in agriculture appears on his financial disclosure in the box marked ‘revenues’. Surprisingly, Abrahamyan shows no land holdingsin any of his disclosures.

Nevertheless, every year he discloses income from the sale of agricultural goods. In 2011, when he was president of the National Assembly, Abrahamyan showed 40 million AMD in related income, 45 million in 2012, and 40 million in 2013. His wife Julieta also receives similar amounts of income from the sale of agricultural goods.

But the prime minister controls large tracts of land in Ararat Province. Just in the village of Narek, he maintains a 120 hectare parcel (100 grapevines and 20 hay fields) registered under his wife’s name.

Julieta Abrahamyan’s land in Narek village

Narek Mayor Garoush Hakobyan told me, “Argam has 120 hectares. If he didn’t buy it, or I or someone else didn’t, 70% of our lands would have remained up in the air.” {Argam is the prime minister’s son}

The Abrahamyan family also owns land in the villages of Kaghtsrashen, Ourtsadzor and Goravan. (None of the mayors wanted to speak to Hetq on the topic).

The irrigation network in Narek and Kaghtsrashen are in bad shape and there’s a scarcity of water. While the Abrahamyan family lands are irrigated by another network, they too are impacted by the water shortage.

In 2013, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development issued Armenia a 25 year US$30 million loan to improve the country’s irrigation infrastructure. The Armenian government chipped in US$7.5 million of its own towards the project. According to the project, the villages of Narek and Kaghtsrashen, along with Abrahamyan family lands, are to be guaranteed water from the River Azat on a gravity fed basis.

The Abrahamyans: Annual Income from Sale of Agricultural Goods (in AMD)

Income Derived from Sale of Agricultural Goods (AMD)  

N 

Name

    2011թ.

   2012թ.

   2013թ.

1

Hovik Abrahamyan

    40,000,000

   45,000,000

   40,000,000

 

2

Julieta Abrahamyan

    45,000,000

   48,000,000

   45,000,000

 

As the numbers in the below chart clearly imply, the Mr. and Mrs. Abrahamyan do not only receive income from the sale of agricultural goods.

Monetary Resources and Income

N

Name

  2009

  2010

   2011

   2012

   2013 

1

Hovik Abrahamyan

Monetary Resources

---

310,000,000 AMD

2,100,000 USD

290.000.000

AMD

2,050,000 USD

280,000,000

AMD

2,000,000 USA

27,000,000

AMD

1,950,000 USA

Income

29,499,760

AMD

25,515,220

AMD

43,671,030

AMD

49,256,010

AMD

42,976,200

AMD

2

Julieta Abrahamyan

Monetary Resources

 

---

315,000,000

AMD

3,020,000 USD

300,000,000

AMD

2,900,000 USD

302,000,000

AMD

2,900,000USD

300,000,000

AMD

2,850,000USD

Income

---

---

45.000.000 AMD

Only from sale of agricultural goods

48.000.000

 AMD

Only from sale of agricultural goods

45.000.000

AMD

Only from sale of agricultural goods


Businesses owned by Mr. and Mrs. Hovik Abrahamyan

No commercial enterprise can be launched in Ararat Province without the participation of the Abrahamyan family. They have shares in many businesses and oversee the province’s economy. Hovik Abrahamyan has brought his brother Henrik and Henrik’s son Hovhannes into many of his businesses. No wonder then that Rafik (another brother of Hovik) and their father Argam have been elected to the Mkhchyan municipal Council. Arsen Abrahamyan, a nephew of the prime minister, now serves as the head of the Ararat Provincial Police. After being appointed the prime minister, Hovik Abrahamyan’s son-in-law Vahan Mamikonyan was appointed the tax agency head in Shengavit (a district of Yerevan), while another son-in-law, Vladimir Tamrazyan was appointed head of the Zvartnots International Airport Customs Department

Preserves, wine and cognac production 

Entrance to Artashat Vincon store and factory Rear View of the factory

Artashat Vincon CJSC, located in Ararat Province, produces wine, cognac and other alcoholic beverages. 50% of the shares are owned by the prime minister’s son Argam Abrahamyan and 50% by Hovhannes Abrahamyan (the son of the prime minister’s brother Henrik).

Between 2010 and 2011, the company took out a total of US$500,000 in loans from various banks. Hovik Abrahamyan, then president of Armenia’s parliament, cosigned as guarantor on a few of them. In return, according to our sources, the company serves as guarantor for Hovik Abrahamyan, allowing him to take out bank loans.

Vikom-Lab Ltd., also in   alcoholic beverage production, was founded by Hovhannes Abrahamyan in 2012 with Armenian and Canadian partners. Hovhannes Abrahamyan and Steven Bryan Fera each owns 45% of shares. The remaining 10% belong to Laura Petrosyan.

"ARTFOOD" Artashat Cannery is another business owned by Argam Abrahamyan. Vachagan Karapetyan, son of Armenian Minister of Agriculture Sergo Karapetyan, is a 50% shareholder. The general manager is Armen Mkrtchyan.

Artfood plant

In October 2012 the company received a five year 300 million AMD loan from the Small and Medium Enterprises Investments Universal Credit Organization (“SME Investments” UCO), a government created credit agency. Argam Abrahamyan signed as the loan guarantor.

Hetq sent an inquiry to SME Investments UCO executive Director Artur Badalyan about this loan. Badalyan refused to comment, arguing that he had no authority to respond under Armenian law.

Gasoline and natural gas stations bring in big bucks for the prime minister’s relatives 

The road from Artashat to Yeraskh is lined with gasoline and natural gas stations owned by relatives of the prime minister.

Mai-Arg Ltd., owned equally by Argam Abrahamyan and Mkhchyan village resident Nara Melkonyan, has several fueling stations in the area.

Trans Gaz Ltd., established this year, is another fueling station company partially owned by Argam Abrahamyan (30%). 25% is owned by Gagik Poghosyan (brother of Republican Party MP Karineh Poghosyan) and a relative of Hovik Abrahamyan on his maternal side.

Hovik Abrahamyan's gas stations in Artashat

Dalar Gaz Ltd., also established this year, was owned exclusively by Argam Abrahamyan until September 26 when 100% ownership reverted to Khachatur Hovsepyan, its director.

The company is registered at the same address as Gagik Poghosyan. Doubtlessly, the change of owners was a formality and that Argam Abrahamyan remains the true owner.

Of interest is that in 2013 Khachatur Hovsepyan founded a fuel importing company called Navt and Gas Ltd. (Hovsepyan owns 50% and Yerevan resident Roman Muradyan owns 50%)

The company delivers fuel to stations throughout Yerevan and surrounding cities.

Metzn Argami Ltd. was established in 2007 by Gagik Poghosyan. One year later he handed 100% of the shares to the prime minister’s wife Julieta Abrahamyan.

The company operates a number of gasoline stations and other shopping sites in Artashat and surrounding villages. One of the gas stations is located at the entrance to Mkhchyan village. The company’s main business is the buying and selling of foodstuffs and non-food items.

Arashag Ltd. operates gas stations along the Artashat-Yeraskh roadway. Gagik Poghosyan owns 40% of the shares. The company is also engaged in construction, automotive repair, and foodstuff and non-foodstuff trade.

One of Hovan-Lian Group’s natural gas filling stations

Hovan-Lian Group Ltd. is also a prominent owner of natural gas stations. Henrik Abrahamyan and former MP Armen Pourdoyan own equal shares in the company, which is named after their children Hovan and Lian.

Ard-Gaz Ltd., created in 2013, is a new natural gas station company servicing the village of Mkhchyan. Henrik Abrahamyan and fellow village resident Gayaneh Hovsepyan own 30% each, with Sousanna Khachatryan, a resident of Abovyan who also serves as company manager, owning the remaining 40%. 

(To be continued)


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Comments (10)
1. նախկին հայաստանցի17:20 - 20 October, 2014
Էհ, Գրիշա ջան գրում ես որ ինչ անեն? Ամենաառաջինը մի օր այսպես խոսեց՝ "Ով՜ է ասել որ հարուստ լինելն ամոթ բան ա!" Սայաթն այսպես կպատասխաներ՝ "Իրավ ես արքա! Ամոթը չքավորինն ու աղքատինն է, որ ազգիդ 90% - ն է!" Հայ-վայ սովետ! - ասում էին ինչ ... ուզում եք կերեք, բայց հանկարծ չհարստանաք! Կաշիներդ գլխներովդ կհանենք հառամ զադեք! Երեւի ճիշտ էին անաստվածները, հենց դրա համար էլ վերացրին, որ առնետներն անարգել բազմանան! Ինձ համար չափից դուրս էր արդեն, ես թողեցի փախա կռիսանոց դարձաց հայրենիքից՝ ներող կլինեք!
2. Վարազ Սյունի (Ամստերդամ) 21:55 - 20 October, 2014
Դասական մաֆիա: «Մաֆիան» միայն մութ նկուղներում անօրինական գործարքներ անելը չէ: ...............................Հայաստանում բոլոր հավաբների «պահակները» աղվեսնե՛ր են: Մնում է,որ հավերը մի օր վեր կենան ու իրենց պահակներին իրենց աքլորներին դնեն:
3. Արմենակ Եղիայեան04:31 - 21 October, 2014
Այս բոլորը ցոյց կու տան, որ արևելահայը ստորագոյն ընչաքաղցն է, և ոջինչ կը նշանակեն իրեն համար ազգ, հայրենիք, պատմութիւն հասկացութիւնները: Պարզապէս զզուելի է:
4. Խաչիկ Մելեքյան10:20 - 24 October, 2014
Արմենակ Եղիայան, սրտիդ խոսքը ասացիր, ու առոք փառոք ըմբոշխնեցիր սուրճդ. Ամոթ է նման արտահայտություն անել-- արևելահայ, արևմտահայ. Գիտե՞ս արդյոք որ մեկ ուրիշի ջրաղացին ջուր լցրեցիր, ևս մի անգամ սեպ խրելով բազմաչարչար հայ ժողովրդի 2 հատվածների միջև։ Ի՞նչ շահեցիր։ Բավական է այլևս.
5. Մեկը12:52 - 30 January, 2015
Արմենակ Եղիայան, ամոթ, հազար ամոթ: Արևելահայերը հայրենիքդ են պաշտպանում թուրքից, երկիր են պահում այստեղ, Հայաստան աշխարհ: Թողել-փախել եք, որ ինչ, մեծ-մեծ խոսեք ազգի, հայրենիքի, ժողովրդի և այլնի մասին? Ժամանակին ձեզ նմաններին դավաճան էին ասում...
6. Աստղիկ09:46 - 12 April, 2016
Արմենակ Եղիայեան, չկան արեւելահայեր եւ արեւմտահայեր, կան միայն ՀԱՅԵՐ: Այո, վերջին մի քանի տասնամեակներու ընթացքին Հայաստանէն արտագաղթած հայեր մեր երեսը սեւցնելու չափ գողութիւններ եւայլն... ըրին աշխարհի տարբեր երկիրներուն մէջ եւ գող անունը հանեցին, բայց բոլորը այդպէս չեն, կան շատ պատուաւորներն ալ, թացը չորին հետ մի այրէք: Ամէն ազգի մէջ ալ կան եւ լաւերը եւ վատերը: Աշխարհի վրայ քանի՞ հատ տարբեր ազգութեան պատկանող միլիոնատէր կայ, անոնք ուրկէ՞ բերած են իրենց հարստութիւնը...
7. Կարեն Մանուկյան14:51 - 12 April, 2016
Վատա, որ առաջարկում են հավասար պայմաններում խաղան? դա անհասկանալի քննադատություն էր, իսկ մնացածի մասով վարչապետը երբեք էլ չի հերքել, որ գյուղատնտեսությամբ բիզնես նվաճումներիա հասել: Եվ առհասարակ հղում եք անում հայտարարագրին, որն ըստ էության բացա ու լրացվելա վարչապետի կողմից, հետևաբար ակնհայտա, որ թափանցիկա գործում մարդը
8. Lilit Sedrakyan16:10 - 12 April, 2016
Քեթրինի Միհրանինը հասկացանք, բայց սա ախր լրիվ ուրիշ թեմայա. Չի կարելի երկրի դե ֆակտո երկրորդ դեմքին այս կարգի անհիմն մեղադրանքներ ներկայացնել. Հ.Գ. կխնդրեմ գրառումս տեղադրել
9. Նելսոն16:12 - 12 April, 2016
Օվ ագահ մարդ ,օվ անկուշտ մարդ ,միտքդ երկար կյանքդ կարճ
10. Էդգար18:28 - 12 April, 2016
Սահմանում դեռ իրավիճակը չի հանդարտվել , իսկ դուք ստորաբար հին նյութեր հրապարակելով փորձում եք սևացնել վարչապետին: Այսպիսի պահերին մեր ազգին անհրաժեշտ է համախմբվել, իսկ ձեր նման դավաճանները փորձում են պառակտել մեր ժողովրդին:
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