13:21, July 9, 2016
According to Armenia’s “Public Service Employment Law”, civil servants or government officials are forbidden to accept gifts that are in any way connected to carrying out their assigned duties.
Simply put, such gifts/gratuities are regarded as nothing more than bribes for said civil servants to either turn a blind eye to various infractions or as incentives to apply the full power of their office if such a measure suits the gift-giver.
Unfortunately, in Armenia, it’s hard to gauge whether gifts, often amounting to thousands of dollars, listed in the financial disclosures submitted by officials, are aimed at manipulating the powers that be.
The reason is simple. Financial disclosures filed by government officials in Armenia do not disclose the source of those gifts.
Ministers and Their Relatives
The only minister who has officially disclosed any gift while in office has been Arpineh Hovhannisyan., Armenia’s Minister of Justice. In 2012, when a Republican Party of Armenia MP, she received a 3 million AMD ($6,300) gift.
While no other minister has disclosed such gifts on their financial reports, their relatives and friends have.
In 2014, when Armen Mouradyan assumed the post of Minister of Health, his family received a gift of $43,000. The same year, Mouradyan’s wife Yelena Amirkhanyan received a $15,000 gift and $10,000 the following year. The minister’s mother received 4.3 million AMD in 2014. His daughter Gayaneh received $4,000 in 2014 and $5,000 in 2015.
Deputy ministers in Armenia have also received gifts, often larger ones.
Deputy Minister of Sport and Youth Affairs Arsen Karamyan received $100,000 in gifts since 2011. While Karamyan has served as minister since 2009, his financial disclosures, as is the case for other top officials, start in 2011.
Artur Poghosyan, deputy culture minister since 2009, disclosed $18,000 two years later.
In 2011, when serving as Tavoush Provincial Governor, Deputy Minister for Urban Construction Armen Ghoularyan received a $20,000 gift.
In 2014, Deputy Health Minister Tigran Sahakyan received a 52 million AMD ($109,000) parcel of land as a gift. (Tigran is the eldest son of parliament president Galust Sahakyan)
Deputy Minister of Finance Atom Janjoughazyan received a 12.7 million apartment as a gift in 2015. Hasmik Martirosyan, his wife, received 216,000 AMD as a gift in 2011.
According to the Public Sector Employment Law, all gifts over 100,000 AMD must be allocated for charitable purposes or regarded as the property of said ministry.
Wives of Deputy Ministers
Maneh Haroutyunyan, wife of Deputy Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Hayk Haroutyunyan, received a gift of 20 million AMD in 2015, one year after her husband took office.
Sofya Makaryan, wife of Deputy Minister of Agriculture Robert Makaryan, received commercial property valued at 1 million AMD in 2015.
Bella Baghinyan, wife of former Deputy Minister of Agriculture Grisha Baghinyan, has received $17,500 since 2013. (Grisha Baghinyan and his two assistants were dismissed in June)
In 2013, Rafayel Poghosyan, son of Deputy Minister of Health Vahan Poghosyan, received a gift of 23 million AMD ($48,2500.
Daniella, daughter of Deputy Minister for Diaspora Affairs Vahagn Melikyan, received a $10,000 gift in 2012 and 29.9 million AMD the following year.
In 2014, Hayk, the 19-year-old son of Deputy Minister of Finance Pavel Safaryan, received a gift of $52,600 dollars. He the purchased a Toyota Land Cruiser Prado.
Armineh and Mary, daughters of Deputy Minister of Defense Movses Hakobyan, received 7 million AMD each in 2015.
This is a convenient catch-all category for revenues other than wages, interest and dividends, inheritance, rents and gifts.
For example, in 2013 and 2014 Armenian Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamyan declared 40 and 30 million AMD respectively in “other income”. There is no information regarding the source.
Julietta Abrahamyan, the prime minister’s wife, declared 218 million AMD ($458,000) in “other income” between 2011 and 2015.
Alisa Grigoryan, wife of Minister of Nature Protection Aramayis Grigoryan, has declared 118.3 million AMD in “other income” in 2013-2015.