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Former Armenian Official Cleared In Panama Leaks Probe


Armenia -- Mihran Poghosian, head of the Service for the Mandatory Execution of Judicial Acts (SMEJA), at a news conference in Yerevan, 26Jan2016

Armenia -- Mihran Poghosian, head of the Service for the Mandatory Execution of Judicial Acts (SMEJA), at a news conference in Yerevan, 26Jan2016

An Armenian law-enforcement agency said on Tuesday that it will not press criminal charges against a former powerful official who resigned last year after being accused of having secret offshore accounts exposed by the Panama Papers.

Citing the leaked documents, the Hetq.am investigative publication reported in April that Mihran Poghosian, the controversial head of an Armenian state body enforcing court rulings, controls three shadowy companies registered in Panama. It said Poghosian has the exclusive right to manage Swiss bank accounts of two of those firms.

After initial a denial of the report, Poghosian announced his resignation later in April. But he stopped short of admitting any wrongdoing.

The Special Investigation Service (SIS) launched a criminal investigation in connection with the Hetq.am report shortly after Poghosian’s resignation.

An SIS spokeswoman, Marina Ohanjanian, told the Armenpress news agency that the law-enforcement body has found no evidence of Poghosian’s involvement in “illegal entrepreneurial activity.” “It has therefore been decided to discontinue the criminal proceedings,” she said.

In Ohanjanian’s words, as part of the investigation, the SIS has requested relevant information from law-enforcement authorities in Panama and Switzerland. The official gave no further details of the probe.

Hetq.am and many other independent media outlets have for years accused Poghosian of having extensive business interests resulting from his government position. In particular, the 40-year-old is widely regarded as the main owner of a company that has for years enjoyed a de facto monopoly on banana imports to Armenia.

Poghosian has repeatedly denied owning businesses or using his position to enrich himself and his family.

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