Thursday, 20 September

Pitfalls of Charitable Assistance to Armenia: Mari Izmirlyan Orphanage Embezzlement Case Goes to Court

There are many institutions in Armenia, ostensibly providing much needed assistance to needy families and orphans, that reach out to Armenians worldwide for financial help.

Some do a good job, while others have garnered the spotlight for engaging in shady financial dealings.

One such organization that falls in the latter category is the Mari Izmirlyan Orphanage in Yerevan. It houses some 100 special needs children aged 6-18.

It is run by Armenia’s Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, and is government financed.

The orphanage is also financially supported by the Society for Orphaned Armenian Relief (SOCAR).

In 2016, orphanage director Hasmik Mkrtchyan was charged with embezzling AMD 46 million from the institution. (The amount stolen translates to around US$ 93,000 at today's exchange rate).

Armenia’s Investigative Committee accuses Mkrtchyan of having cooked the books from 2013-2016, creating nineteen ‘ghost’ job listings. Wages were then disbursed, only to be pocketed by Mkrtchyan.

The case is now being heard by Yerevan’s Arabkir and Kanaker-Zeytoun Administrative Court.

In addition to Mkrtchyan, the orphanage’s accountant Lida Sargsyan, staff supervisor Mary Khayan, and chief accountant Kristine Poghosyan have been implicated in the embezzlement scheme.

None of the 31 individuals listed as employees on the books have been criminally charged. As it now stands, the court will not investigate whether these individuals received a kick-back to have their names used in the embezzlement scheme.

None of the defendants have been placed in detention while the trial gets underway. All have signed an affidavit saying they will not flee the country.

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Comments (6)
1. Hovsep23:38 - 17 January, 2018
I hope you will follow up with stories of the many-many organizations that do good work and have spotless reputations. Hetq needs to become more balanced in what you cover - not just the few negatives, but also the many positives. Otherwise, only negativity discourages people from doing good.
2. Hetq05:03 - 18 January, 2018
Charitable organizations that have been found to violate the trust of donors, like the Mari Izmirlian Orphange, must be brought to light. Potential donors need to know that their money is reaching those in need. This isn't "spreading negativity", but rather providing essential information and calling those so charged to account. Hetq publishes hundreds of stories of individuals and organizations doing good work. But the rotten apples in the barrel also need to be addressed. It's an important function of the press - working in the public interest.
3. mahmouzian07:08 - 18 January, 2018
hovsep hetq can give you 1 page of positive ans at list 25to 50 pages of negative bravo hetq give us the crooks. thank you
4. Monte00:36 - 25 January, 2018
I agree with Hovsep, and the key word in Hovsep's sentence is "ONLY", it is not right to show one sided view all the time, and that view is, that the government is doing bad all the time, they are corrupt ALL the time, and anything they do, there is someone somewhere sitting on a couch criticizing. I believe in, giving credit when credit is due, and criticizing, when necessary and TAKING ACTION to fix the problem, not to be part of the social media forces a.k.a. "Couch Forces". There are many charities, and organizations that work with transparency. The donors need to due their research before donating, or else they are also somewhat to blame for the corruption, because they are literally feeding it!!! has anyone considered that?
5. Tiran05:00 - 25 January, 2018
Just how do you propose that donors find out if the charity they donate to are actually using the money for the stated purpose? Have you considered that?
6. Marod08:01 - 26 February, 2018
Good job Hetq! Thank you.
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