The whereabouts of Samvel Babayan, the former Commander of the Artsakh Defense Forces, have remained a mystery for some time.
Babayan’s company, Kardan System Ltd, is now entangled in the courts. Two Iranian citizens, Ali Pirouz and Shahla Khosrojerdi, established the company but no longer own any shares. The company’s director, also an Iranian citizen, is also on the run.
For many years, Kardan System was the leading company importing lumber into Armenia. Everyone knew that the lumber business belonged to Babayan and that he had been granted the rights during the days when Robert Kocharyan was president of Armenia.
Kardan System also imported large quantities of fertilizer to Armenia. But something pivotal happened to Babayan’s business at the beginning of 2010.
Some sources point to a business transaction gone bad; that Babayan had been swindled and was facing a mountain of debt.
These sources say that Babayan had put up real estate as collateral for the transaction. The collateral consisted of a few houses - his unfinished private house high atop the Cascade in Yerevan, an apartment at the intersection of Nalbandyan and Tumanyan Streets, his mother-in-law’s house, and a few others.
In total, 16 pieces of real estate were put up as collateral – houses, apartments, a swimming pool and one café.
According to the courts, Ardshininvest Bank was the major creditor for Kardan System. The company was in hock for $1.8 million.
When bankruptcy regulator Hrant Ghambaryan was asked if Samvel Babayan was registered somewhere as the real owner of Kardan System, he answered, “I can neither confirm nor deny that he is. Nevertheless, there is no documentary evidence to that effect. Search warrants have been issued for the company’s director, papers and seal. There’s no one company official who can tell us what’s what.”