The journey from America to Armenia hasn’t been a happy one for Oshin Peroomian and his family.
An Armenian court has stripped Oshin of property rights to a 2,500 square meter plot of land for which he paid 88 million AMD (around $195,000 at the time).
Oshin purchased the land, located in the shadow of the Yerevan TV antennae, to build a house after relocating to Armenia in 2006.
The family had visited Armenia in 2003, 2004 and 2006. They made the final move the following year even though his parents and his in-laws tried to talk him out of it.
Oshin is an engineer by profession. He owns a civil engineering company back in the States which he manages long distance from Armenia and at the same time helps supervise his father’s architectural firm in Armenia.
In 2005, Oshin purchased the property from Andranik Ghulijanyan, Director of the “Forest Scientific Experimental Center”, a state non-commercial organization (SNCO) attached to the Ministry of Nature Protection.
Ghulijanyan owned 5,000 square meters in all at the site. Oshin asked him to divide the site in two since he didn’t have the resources to purchase the entire lot. Oshin legally registered the purchase of the 2,500 sm site and received his property deed.
A few months after the family arrived from America, Oshin got a phone call from the courts asking him to show up.
In court, it was revealed that certain payments made by Andranik Ghulijanyan, when he originally purchased the land from the Yerevan Municipality, were never deposited in the Municipality’s accounts.
Thus, the Yerevan Municipality had taken the matter to the courts, demanding that the real estate contract between it and Ghulijanyan be nullified. The Municipality also demanded that, by extension, the contract signed by Ghulijanyan and Oshin Peroomian also be voided.
As to why the payments made by Ghulijanyan were never recorded in the Municipality’s accounts is another story in its own right.
Suffice it to say, that the original 5,000 sq plot was leased to Ghulijanyan back in 2005 by the Yerevan Municipality and that Ghulijanyan purchased the land for his friend Ruben Tadevosyan, 2o days after the Municipality decided to sell the land on the private market.
(Translator’s note: If readers know anything about the way business is conducted in Armenia – the never ending maze of bureaucracy, mountains of paper work, overall inefficiency – and then you’ll have some idea of the hurdles to be jumped. Then throw in sanctioned and unsanctioned corruption and embezzlement into the mix and you can imagine what happened to this plot of land and related property rights by the time Oshin appeared on the scene.)
To make a long story short, the 66 million AMD paid by Tadevosyan never showed up in the coffers of the Yerevan Municipality.
As Oshin Peroomian describes the situation in an open letter that previously appeared in Hetq:
During our civil trial, it became clear that a group of people (kadastr employees, bank employees and other officials and civilians) had been arrested for falsifying documents and receipts and pocketing the money that was to be paid into the state treasury for the original purchase of the land (when Ghulijanyan purchased it from the city). It turned out that over a hundred transactions of this type where conducted with a massive loss to the state treasury. The state had started criminal proceedings against the aforementioned group and had seized all their assets.
In the end, Yerevan’s Kentron and Nork-Marash Court of General Jurisdiction decided to nullify the real estate purchase contract the Yerevan Municipality had signed with Ghulijanyan and invalidate the sales/purchase contract entered into by Ghulijanyan and Oshin Peroomian.
Oshin was in effect being punished for the crimes committed by others.
He appealed the court’s ruling and motioned the Appeals Court to postpone the trial until the criminal case into who swindled the Municipality was completed.
Oshin describes what happened next as a scene out of a bad adapted John Grisham novel.
By the fall of 2010, those who had pocketed the money had been tried and convicted. But the Municipality still wanted someone to pay and didn’t care who did so.
The Appeals Court ruling basically upheld the verdict of the lower court.
“In fact the judges didn’t even read the verdict in court. The secretary gave us the ruling outside of court and said,’Sorry, we did everything we could’.” Oshin recounts.
Oshin then took the matter to the Court of Cassation, the highest court in the land dealing with such cases.
On October 3, 2011, he got a formal letter from the Cassation Court that it had refused to even hear his case, exhausting all options open to me within the boundaries of the RA. “In their letter of refusal, there is absolutely no reason given for their decision,” Oshin writes in his open letter.
In his open letter, a despondent and disappointed Oshin Peroomian writes:
I love my country. In fact, very few have made the decision that my family and I have made, leaving the “good-life” in LA for a better-life in Yerevan. My third child was born in Yerevan, and I am proud that I live in my homeland and contribute to its hopefully prosperous future (in my own way). However, the so-called sovereign judicial system here has left me no choice but to seek justice outside the boundaries of the RA. My next stop in this journey will be the European court.
It’s this love of country that will keep Oshin and his family in Armenia in the pursuit of justice.