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Corruption Report Investigated By Police


Armenia -- Ishkhan Zakarian, chairman of the parliament's Audit Chamber, at a news conference, 5Nov2010.

Armenia -- Ishkhan Zakarian, chairman of the parliament's Audit Chamber, at a news conference, 5Nov2010.

The Armenian police launched on Friday a criminal investigation into serious abuses in the administration of public procurements that have been alleged by the parliamentary Audit Chamber.

In its annual report presented to the National Assembly on Thursday, the financial oversight body said various government agencies have misused substantial sums through fraudulent tenders that artificially inflated the cost of goods, services and construction purchased by them. The report singled out a government project to upgrade court facilities in Armenia, which was mostly financed by foreign loans.

A police spokesman told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) that a criminal case was opened in connection with those allegations. The official said the inquiry will be conducted under articles of the Criminal Code dealing with abuse of power and misuse of public funds. Nobody has been detained yet, he said.

The criminal proceedings were demanded not only by the Audit Chamber but also the opposition minority in the Armenian parliament. Zaruhi Postanjian, a deputy from the opposition Zharangutyun (Heritage) party, said the authorities must demonstrate that “the National Assembly is not a theater.” She called the chamber’s allegations a “crime report.”

Another opposition lawmaker, Aram Manukian of the Armenian National Congress (HAK), was skeptical about the announced probe, saying that the authorities are inherently disinterested in eradicating corruption. “Their entire system will crumble if they try to do that,” he told journalists.

But Galust Sahakian, the parliamentary leader of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK), said the HHK will support punitive measures against relevant officials “if we find that there was sloppiness, shortcomings, waste and inefficient use” of public money.
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