Vahe Sarukhanyan

Wealthy Relatives: Family of Armenia’s New National Security Service Head Has Diverse Business Interests

Artur Vanetsyan, recently appointed to head Armenia’s National Security Service (NSS), isn’t the only one in his family who holds a government post.

Photos circulating in the social web lead us to believe that the 39-year-old Vanetsyan is a close friend of AlenSimonyan (on the right of the below photo), a member of the board of the Civil Contract political party founded by newly-elected Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan.

It’s no coincidence that Simonyan was the first to publish Vanetsyan’s biography, which appeared in the ararat.news website. The bio states that prior to being appointed NSS head, Vanetsyan as Deputy Chief of the Yerevan Municipal Board from 2016 to 2018. Prior to this, Vanetsyan worked in the national security sector starting in 2000.

Artur Vanetsyan’s Mother Also a Government Official

61-year-old Margarit Azaryan, Artur’s mother, was a member of the Civil Service Council from 2002-2011. She was appointed Chief of the Presidential Staff Board in 2011. She’s also on the governing board of Armenia’s Public Administration Academy.

Due to 2017 changes to the law regarding who is obligated to file financial disclosures, government employees other than “top ranking” were also obligated to file financial disclosures.

Margarit Azaryan, as Chief of the Presidential Staff Board, was now obligated to file a disclosure along with her husband Gagik Vanetsyan (Artur’s father) since they lived at the same address.

Azaryan filed a financial disclosure for the first time in 2017, declaring an apartment, a house and a piece of land. She no moveable assets or securities in excess of AMD 8 million.

Nevertheless, in September of 2017, Azaryan declared AMD 25 million and US$15,000 in cash. She declared AMD 3.6 million in salary for the period January-July 2017 and another AMD 476,000 in revenue from other contracts.

In March of this year, Azaryan filed her annual 2017 financial disclosure showing cash assets of AMD 30 million and an annual salary of 7.7 million drams. Her foreign currency holdings remained the same. She also made a loan of 5.9 million drams and took out a loan of 4.5million drams. She also declared slightly more than AMD 1 million in revenue from other contracts. 

Artur Vanetsyan’s Businessman Father

Gagik Vanetsyan, father of the new NSS chief, also filed an annual financial disclosure this past March.

He declared the purchase of two private homes, at a cost of AMD 48 million and AMD 198 million. He also purchased a Mercedes-Benz C200 for 22 million drams (approximately $45,000 at today’s exchange rate).

The AMD 420 million he had at the start of the year dropped to 372 million by the end of 2017.

64-year-old GagikVanetsyan also received 1.2 million drams in wages and 474 million drams in business dividends.

Av Group

In a 2015 article, Hetq wrote about Av Group Ltd., a flower importer founded by Gagik Vanetsyan in 2012. The company is still operating and Gagik Vanetsyan is its sole shareholder.

AB Trans

In October 2014, Gagik Vanetsyan and Yerevan residents Armen Pepanyan and Manya Ghazaryan founded AB Trans.

Vanetsyan owns 60% of the company and Pepanyan, 40%. Yerevan resident Artur Grigoryan replaced Vanetsyan as director in 2015.

In 2017, the company won a commendation from the State Revenue Committee for paying its taxes in a timely manner. It paid AMD 9.4 million in taxes in 2016.

AB Export

In June 2016, GagikVanetsyan and Nor Aresh resident Arman Ghazaryan founded AB Export. The two have a equal share of the company shares. Gagik Vanetsyan has since resigned as director, handing the post over to his nephew Tigran Vanetsyan. (Av Group Ltd. is registered at Tigran’s home address)

According to the State Revenue Committee, AB Export is in the wholesale diesel fuel trade. It’s been listed as one of the top four fuel importers in Armenia alongside CPS, Flesh and Max Petrol.

Artur Vanetsyan’s Wife Nona: From Ministry Adviser to Teacher

36-year-old Nona Vanetsyan, Artur’s wife, is registered as residing on Yerevan’s Komitas Avenue with her mother Janeta Mkoyan.

Soon after Artur Vanetsyan was appointed to head the NSS, the couple began to erase their pages in various social websites. Luckily for us, some users were able to obtain some interesting information about the couple before their pages disappeared.

We know that in 2015, then Minister of Territorial Governance and Emergency Affairs Armen Yeritsyan appointed Nona Vanetsyan as his adviser. Another source reports that Nona represented the same ministry in foreign countries, international organizations and state bodies. 

In 2017, Nona Vanetsyan opened the Villa Montessori Children’s Developmental Center in Yerevan.

Comprised of a pre-school and learning center, Vanetsyan’s institution, like others bearing the Montessori name, follows the curriculum developed by Italian doctor, psychologist and pedagogue Maria Montessori.

There are three buildings on the site, located at 62 Demirtchyan Street. A private house and garage are also on the premises.

The property is owned by Gagik Vanetsyan. The building housing the Center has been handed over to Nona Vanetsyan’s Young Educational Center Ltd., to be used at no cost.

The Young Educational Center Ltd. was founded in March 2017 and is registered at the same address. On April 6 of this year, Nona Vanetsyan also registered an NGO called the Montessori Association of Armenia at the same address. Just a few days before this, Nona’s mother Janeta founded Villa Montessori Ltd.

Getting back to 62 Demirtchyan Street, it’s interesting to note that according to the State Property Cadastre, the buildings have been put up as collateral with AmeriaBank.

This is perhaps linked to the AMD 4.5 million loan than Margarit Azaryan disclosed that she received last year.