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Edik Baghdasaryan

No transparency at the Lincy Foundation

The Investigative Journalists NGO requested information from the Lincy Foundation’s Armenian office and its Project Implementation Offices (PIOs) back in August 2001, but they have not responded yet. Of course, we could have tried to obtain the information in question through the courts, but we didn’t do so in the hope that someone from the foundation would react to what we wrote.

But the Lincy Foundation never responded to the three articles that appeared in Hetq in 2001 and 2002. In a conversation with a Hetq reporter in 2001, Armen Zargaryan, director of the Armenian office of the Lincy Foundation, said that according to a memorandum signed between the foundation and the government ofArmenia, the provision of any information was to be coordinated with theWashingtonoffice of the Lincy Foundation.

And what is more, according to Lincy (including PIO managers), the foundation is a closed system and is not interested in publicity. That makes you stop and think. If the money allocated has reached its targets, why don’t they publish information on the projects that have been planned and implemented? If the goal of the program is to promote small and medium businesses, then shouldn’t it be as transparent and public as it can, so that private businesses can best take advantage of the opportunities that Lincy offers?

In May 2001 another PIO was added to the list of Lincy Foundation offices inArmenia-the “Investment” foreign investment loan project, worth $30 million. The project was managed by foreign ministry employee Vahe Aghabekyan. In February 2002 it was closed by a decision of the government.

Two months earlier, Hetq had interviewed Aghabekyan to find out why the Investment project had been initiated. He was the only Lincy Foundation representative who agreed to be interviewed. Here’s how he answered one question: “It was decided to involve and service within the loan program those businesses that are owned by citizens or legal entities of foreign countries. Thus the $30 million Investment loan project was created to promote the businesses of foreign investors inArmenia. It was also decided to implement the project without the interference of banks, as it could be inconvenient for foreign investors to work with the rates established here. Of course this does not rule out the participation of banks, and I think banks will play a role in any financing. It was decided to make the general process of the projects more flexible and to avoid as much possible procedures that impede normal and speedy financing.”

The Investment project was shut down, and consequently, no such program was implemented. Yet according to our information, in the course of the project’s existence, a considerable amount of money was spent. All of our efforts to find out how much money was spent have failed so far.