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The Armenian police on Friday announced the arrest of a State Social Welfare Service official who allegedly used a fraud scheme to embezzle a large amount of money issued for non-existing pensioners.


The Police’s Information and Public Relations Department told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service (Azatutyun.am) that Artur Sukiasian, who has served as deputy chief of the Service’s division for Yerevan’s Avan and Nor Nork districts, while working in a chapter responsible for another district of the city, in the period from January to August 2008 sent false claims to take control of large sums issued on behalf of 22 pensioners who were already dead and not eligible for receiving pensions.

The investigation of the case has been carried out by the police agency combating organized crime. It is part of a wider probe into alleged abuse by officials within the agency of the Armenian Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs.

The police say another 22 people are suspects in the investigation. None of them have been taken into custody yet.

Last December Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian fired head of the State Social Welfare Service Vazgen Khachikian, who, in a later interview with RFE/RL’s Armenian Service (Azatutyun.am) did not deny that his dismissal might have been connected with violations revealed in his agency by the Audit Chamber.

No charges have yet been brought against Khachikian as part of the criminal proceedings.
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