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Senior Official Denies Business Ownership


Armenia - Mihran Poghosian, head of the Service for the Mandatory Execution of Judicial Acts, at a news conference, 18Jan2012.

Armenia - Mihran Poghosian, head of the Service for the Mandatory Execution of Judicial Acts, at a news conference, 18Jan2012.

The head of an Armenian state body enforcing court rulings on Wednesday implicitly denied assaulting one of his subordinates in 2010 and insisted that he has no extensive business interests.

Mihran Poghosian, who runs the Justice Ministry’s Service for the Mandatory Execution of Judicial Acts (SMEJA), risked losing his job after the Armenian government effectively confirmed the assault reports that appeared in the media.

Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian accused Poghosian of a “serious violation of ethical rules” and instructed then Justice Minister Gevorg Danielian to take disciplinary action against the SMEJA chief. Danielian was sacked in December 2010 because of apparently failing to do that.

Unlike the minister, Poghosian was not relieved of his duties. This fact was construed by commentators as further proof that the 35-year-old has powerful patrons in the country’s leadership.

Poghosian has not commented on the embarrassing affair until now. “I don’t think that a state official has the right to comment on the prime minister’s statement, even if I don’t agree with it. I stress, even if I don’t agree,” he told journalists on Wednesday.

Asked to clarify whether he denies assaulting another SMEJA official, Poghosian said, “Let’s refrain from comments and be open to each other.”

Poghosian joined the SMEJA in 2007 and became the head of the law-enforcement agency a year later. Armenian newspapers have linked with a number of lucrative businesses, including the Fresh supermarket chain in Yerevan. Another company allegedly owned by him and called Katrin was accused by pro-opposition publications of buying votes for Serzh Sarkisian during the February 2008 presidential election.

“I started doing business in 1995 and founded the firm Katrin which achieved quite serious successes,” said Poghosian. “But after I was appointed as deputy chief of the SMEJA, I sold or abandoned, so to speak, those businesses.”

“I’m a state official and I have had no connection with any business since 2007,” insisted Poghosian. He claimed that he now owns only properties leased by Katrin and Fresh stores.
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