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Sarkisian’s Chief Bodyguard Suspected Of ‘Illegal Enrichment’


Armenia - President Serzh Sarkisian and his chief bodyguard Vachagan Ghazarian (L), 11 July 2015.

Law-enforcement authorities launched on Friday criminal proceedings against former Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian’s longtime chief bodyguard after confiscating more than $1 million in cash from his Yerevan apartment.

In a joint operation, Armenia’s Investigative Committee and police raided on Wednesday a night club in the capital which is owned by Vachagan Ghazarian’s wife, Ruzanna Beglarian, and suspected of financial irregularities.

They also searched the couple’s apartment in downtown Yerevan and claimed to have found more than $1.1 million, over 230,000 euros ($267,000) and 35 million drams ($72,000) stashed there. The Investigating Committee said the cash was handed over to Armenia’s Central Bank and will be kept there “until the inquiry determines its origin.”

The committee spokeswoman, Sona Truzian, said Ghazarian and his wife failed to disclose the large sum in their income and asset declarations submitted to an anti-corruption state commission.

Such declarations are mandatory for Armenia’s high-ranking state officials and their close relatives. Ghazarian was such an official until Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian dismissed him last month as first deputy head of a security agency providing bodyguards to the country’s leaders.

In a Facebook post, Truzian said the Investigating Committee has therefore opened a criminal case under articles of the Armenian Criminal Code dealing with “illegal enrichment” of officials and submission of false income declarations by them. She did not clarify whether Ghazarian has already been questioned by investigators.

Ghazarian has headed Sarkisian’s security detail for more than two decades. It is not clear whether he still works for the ex-president.

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