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Seda Ghukasyan

Head of Special Investigative Service Says Inquiry Will Prove Whether Hayastan All Armenian Fund Director Repaid Embezzled Millions

Artur Vanetsyan, Director of Armenia’s Special Investigative Service (SIS), told reporters today in Yerevan that an investigation will prove whether Hayastan All Armenian Fund Director Ara Vardanyan, arrested yesterday on embezzlement charges, actually returned the money he pilfered from the Fund, as he claims.

Vardanyan is suspected of surreptitiously withdrawing millions of drams from the Fund’s bank account, some of which was spent on online gambling.

This reporter asked Vanetsyan about a list of some 350 individuals engaged in corruption that was supposed to be published by the SIS

“I said that there were more than 350 people that engage in business that aren’t aware that the revelations at SAS and the other supermarkets were about them. Overall, we’re talking about 1,000 people,” Vanetsyan said.

When asked if the SIS was capable of bringing top former government officials charged with various crimes before the courts, Vanetsyan said the SIS was on top of the situation.

I mentioned former defense minister Mikayel Harutyunyan, whom the SIS has charged with “usurping state power” during the mass public protests of March 1-2, 2008.

An arrest warrant has been issued for Harutyunyan, but he, and other former government officials, have fled the country.

Vanetsyan said that Harutyunyan had left Armenia long before the warrant was issue.

Vanetsyan would neither confirm nor deny press reports that the SIS wants to “question” former Armenia Police Chief Vladimir Gasparyan.

“I won’t comment on that news. We’ll issue a statement if something develops,” said Vanetsyan, who refused to say what they might want to talk to Gasparyan about.

Top photo: Artur Vanetsyan