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Zaruhi Mejlumyan

Man Pleads Innocent in 755 Million AMD VivaCell Embezzlement Case

Ashot Kuyumjian, a 37 year-old father of two from Kapan, has spent the last 14 months in custody awaiting his fraud trial.

He’s been charged with embezzling 755 million AMD worth of calling cards between 2010 and 2014 from VivaCell while working as the company’s Syunik branch manager.

500 million worth of the cards was stolen in just one year. This translates into 1.369 million worth of cards per day.

Kuyumjian, now on trial at Yerevan’s Kentron and Nork Marash Court, says he innocent of the charges. Mesrob Makyan, the alleged accomplice of Kuyumjian, is also on trial.

The trial is being conducted behind closed doors, something which Kuyumjian’s lawyers Inessa Petrosyan and Karen Mezhlumyan describe as preventing public oversight.

Kuyumjian’s mother Rouzanna Safaryan has told Hetq that her son found discrepancies in his reserve balance and brought the matter up with Viva Cell-MTS General Manager Ralph Yirikian. (Viva Cell is the dba name of K-Telecom). The mother says Yirikian told her son to continue working. One month later, Ashot Kuyumjian was arrested.

“I’m flabbergasted. You mean to say a man would have to have sold 1,000 calling cards in one day, said Mrs. Safaryan, adding that her son had received various commendations while working for Viva Cell.

Attorney Mezhlumyan says that secretly taped phone conversations, heard in court, capture top officials at the cell phone company talking about how they would pin the entire affair on ‘that pitiable slob whose poor wife is pregnant’.

Mrs. Safaryan says these phone conversations are sufficient to have her son exonerated of the embezzlement charge and set free. She says that the tapes have gotten a few people dismissed, including Yirikian’s right-hand assistant Inga Malkhasyan, but that they haven’t helped her son.

Mrs. Safaryan wrote to Yirikian, requesting a meeting. She says that Yirikian refused to see her, advising her to contact the investigations department instead.

Kuyumjian’s lawyers have requested that their client be freed on bail but that the court denied the request.

Photo: Defense lawyers Karen Mezhlumyan and  Inessa Petrosyan