A senior Armenian government official insisted on Friday that the administration of Yerevan State University (YSU) is responsible for financial irregularities worth at least 800 million drams ($1.6 million).
The State Oversight Service (SOS) subordinate to Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian first made these claims last month after looking into financial records of Armenia’s largest and oldest university mostly financed by the government. It sent its findings to prosecutors for further investigation.
Nobody has been charged in connection with those allegations so far.
The YSU rector, Aram Simonian, angrily denied the accusations as baseless and politically motivated late last month. He linked them with his long-standing membership in former President Serzh Sarkisian’s Republican Party (HHK).
Simonian came under strong pressure to step down after mass protests led by Pashinian forced Sarkisian into resignation in April. The rector has refused to quit.
The SOS chief, Davit Sanasarian, dismissed Simonian’s statements, saying that his agency did conduct an objective “examination.”
“I wouldn’t advise current or former officials to follow Aram Simonian’s example and immediately claim that they see political persecution and so on,” Sanasarian told a news conference. “Whether they are from the HHK, [Pashinian’s] Civil Contract or any other party, they must be equal before the law and held answerable.”
“I can assure you that if that examination lasted longer those figures [relating to financial abuses] would be much higher,” he said.
Another senior SOS official, Davit Aydian, said the bulk of the alleged financial abuses detected by the government body resulted from procurement and construction tenders administered by the YSU management. The winners of those tenders did not submit the lowest bids, he claimed.