Armenian law-enforcement authorities will not investigate what Prime Minister Karen Karapetian has called an embezzlement of budgetary funds allocated for government officials’ travel expenses, Justice Minister Arpine Hovannisian said on Monday.
Karapetian alleged and decried the “primitive theft” while chairing a cabinet meeting last week. His chief of staff, Davit Harutiunian, unveiled a new electronic system for the purchase of air tickets for officials travelling abroad on business. It is supposed to prevent such fraud.
Karapetian did not specify the scale of the alleged fraud or name officials who he thinks engage in it. Nor did law-enforcement launch criminal proceedings in connection with his claim.
Hovannisian made clear that Karapetian’s statement will not lead to a criminal investigation. She said the premier merely condemned the failure of various government agencies to properly perform their duties. Under Armenian law, that is not sufficient grounds for prosecuting government officials, the 32-year-old minister told reporters.
Hovannisian went on to rule out any fraudulent practices within the Armenian Ministry of Justice. “Our ministry buys the cheapest air tickets,” she said. “No business class or other expensive tickets have ever been bought even for the minister.”
Karapetian pledged to speed up economic reforms and strengthen the rule of law in the country after he was appointed prime minister by President Serzh Sarkisian on September 14.