Armenian tax officials are still inspecting the businesses of embattled political party leader Gagik Tsarukian, a senior government member confirmed on Thursday.
Deputy Finance Minister Armen Alaverdian, however, refused to disclose details of the audits or speak about their preliminary results.
“The inspections are underway, certain time frames are set for these audits, and it is impossible to speak about any results now,” he said.
The tax audits of the companies owned by the extended family of Tsarukian, the leader of Armenia’s second largest parliamentary party, Prosperous Armenia (BHK), were ordered by Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian on February 14, two days after President Serzh Sarkisian lashed out at the opposition leader, accusing him of being “evil” for the country and calling for his exclusion from Armenia’s political life. In his verbal attack on his top critic Sarkisian also spoke about “unverified reports” implicating Tsarukian in large-scale tax evasion.
The political standoff between Sarkisian and Tsarukian effectively ended in the middle of last week as the BHK leader made conciliatory remarks in a statement following a reported meeting of the two. Senior members of Sarkisian’s ruling Republican Party, however, said they were determined to continue their campaign to push Tsarukian out of the political process even after his party moderated its views and effectively stopped calling for the resignation of the current administration.
Vakhtang Mirumian, one of the five deputy finance ministers, told media on Wednesday that under Armenia’s law tax inspections normally last for up to 15 days, but when large companies are concerned the period may be extended to 75 days.
Earlier, talking to RFE/RL’s Armenian Service (Azatutyun), BHK lawmaker Mikayel Melkumian said that the president-ordered tax audits of the businesses owned by Tsarukian’s extended family amounted to political pressure on the BHK leader and his political team.