Armenia’s State Revenue Committee (SRC) said on Friday that eight more companies have been accused of tax evasion.
The head of the SRC, Davit Ananian, said all of those firms are engaged in retail sales of pressurized natural gas used by most vehicles in the country. One of them is owned by Gagik Tsarukian, an influential businessman and politician, while two others belong to former officials, Ananian told a news conference.
Those ex-officials are Ananian’s predecessor Vartan Harutiunian and Mher Sedrakian, a well-known and controversial member of the former ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK). Sedrakian held a parliament seat until last year.
Ananian said that the eight companies evaded a total of 946 million drams ($2 million) in taxes.“Criminal cases have been opened against all of them,” he said.
The SRC chief made clear that the tax evasion charges against them will be dropped if they admit the allegedly unpaid taxes and transfer them to the state treasury. The same rule will apply to other firms accused of tax fraud, he said.
“I think it’s wrong to prosecute and jail entrepreneurs and ban them from doing business because we would lose potential taxpayers as a result,” explained Ananian. “Taxpayers should be put on the right track instead.”
Armenia’s new government pledged to crack down on widespread tax evasion when it took office two months ago. Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian said on Tuesday that the government has since recovered more than 20 billion drams ($42 million) of unpaid taxes. The sum equivalent to almost 1.8 percent of Armenia’s 2017 tax revenue was collected from 73 companies, according to the SRC.