An Armenian government agency claimed on Thursday to have rooted out corruption within its ranks.
The State Committee on Real Estate Cadastre has long been one of the sources of corruption-related complaints lodged by Armenian citizens. Many of them have claimed to have faced bribe demands when registering real estate transactions and especially gaining title to land in urban areas.
Ashot Musayan, the deputy head of the committee, said such complaints would now be “archaic” as bribery and other corrupt practices have been “eliminated” from the agency.
“Since such phenomena emerged in 2008-2009, the new leadership of the Committee has taken quite a lot of measures in that direction,” Musayan told a news conference. “The activities of the committee’s oversight division have been strengthened and quite a few personnel changes were made in the regions.”
“And it must be said that as a result of all this, the situation in the cadastre system is now quite normal,” he said.
Musayan was careful not to accuse the former longtime head of the committee, Transport and Communications Minister Manuk Vartanian, of being tolerant of corruption. “Let’s not link that with individuals,” he said.
The committee is currently headed by Yervand Zakharian, a former mayor of Yerevan. Zakharian faced corruption allegations from opposition figures and media critical of the government when he ran the Yerevan municipality.
His tenure coincided with massive redevelopment in the city center that was accompanied by forcible evictions of families refusing what they considered a meager financial compensation offered by the state for their old houses. They accused government and municipality officials of personally benefiting from the process.
The Armenian parliament’s Audit Chamber inspected the State Committee on Real Estate Cadastre and found only procedural violations in its operations late last year. Still, it warned of “serious corruption risks” existing within the agency.