By Diego Garamanugian in Montevideo and Harry Tamrazian in Prague
Argentinean-Armenian tycoon Eudardo Eurnekian, who has invested in Armenia's Zvartnots international airport, received an arrest order yesterday from an Argentinean Court. Eurnekian, who is currently in Italy, was ordered to turn himself in to the Argentinean authorities within five days.
Judge Julio Cruciani ordered also the freezing of $13 million worth of assets owned by Eurnekian, whom the court accuses of evading VAT, income and personal assets taxes incurred as a result of the sale of Argentinean TV Company Cablevision.
Eurnekian's lawyers have already issued statements saying that Eurnekian has always filed accurate tax returns and has never withheld information on his income or the sale of assets. According to Argentinean press reports, Eurnekian has decided to return immediately to Argentina and face the charges there.
Eurnekian's company, which operates 33 airports across South America, signed a 30-year management contract with the Armenian government and took over Zvartnots last year. In addition to securing the long-term management of Zvartnots, Eurnekian's group was granted the right to create a tax-free economic zone inside the airport.
Under a special law passed by the Armenian parliament in May 2002, the one square-kilometer area can accommodate businesses exempt from profit tax and other duties. The parliament also amended Armenia's gambling legislation to allow investors to open casinos inside the tax haven.