Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian on Friday claimed to have obtained compelling evidence that he has no stake in an obscure Cyprus-registered company that was allegedly used for defrauding an Armenian businessman.
Harutiun Berberian, Sarkisian’s spokesman, said Cypriot lawyers have found out that none of the official documents of the company called Wlispera Holdings carry the premier’s signatures.
Sarkisian has been on the defensive ever since the Hetq.am investigative publication disclosed last month a purported document certifying that Wlispera is co-owned by him as well as a high-ranking Armenian cleric and fugitive businessman Ashot Sukiasian. The latter has been charged with misappropriating, through Wlispera’s bank accounts in Cyprus, millions of dollars invested in his business project by another entrepreneur, Paylak Hayrapetian.
Sarkisian claims that the company was registered in his name without his knowledge. He asked Armenian prosecutors to investigate the alleged name abuse shortly after the Hetq.am report caused a stir in the country.
Prosecutor-General Aghvan Hovsepian asked his Greek Cypriot counterpart, Petros Clerides, to assist in the ongoing investigation when they met in Yerevan earlier this month. In what was a blow to the credibility of Sarkisian’s assurances, Clerides ruled out the possibility of Wlispera’s fraudulent registration.
According to Berberian, the prime minister also commissioned last month an unnamed law firm in Cyprus to conduct a separate inquiry. He said the lawyers have been informed by the island state’s state registry of businesses that Sarkisian did not sign any Wlispera documents.
The official also told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) that this information has already been forwarded to state prosecutors and a police unit investigating the fraud case. A police spokesman confirmed this.