Armenian law-enforcement authorities have so far been unable to track down and arrest a fugitive brother of former President Serzh Sarkisian facing corruption charges, Prosecutor-General Artur Davtian claimed on Friday.
Levon Sarkisian was charged with “illegal enrichment” after tax inspectors discovered in June that he and his two children hold almost $7 million in undeclared deposits at an Armenian bank.
Under Armenian law, such asset declarations are mandatory for high-ranking state officials and their family members. This legal requirement applies to Levon Sarkisian because he worked as ambassador-at-large at the Armenian Foreign Ministry until his brother was overthrown in last spring’s “velvet revolution.”
Levon Sarkisian is thought to have left Armenia shortly before being indicted. One of his business partners, Gabriel Jemberjian, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service in December that Sarkisian is now living abroad but planning to return to Armenia because “his issues should be solved very soon.”
The head of the National Security Service (NSS), Artur Vanetsian, stated recently that the ex-president’s brother is in Lebanon at the moment.
Davtian downplayed Vanetsian’s statement, arguing that it has not yet been officially confirmed by Lebanese authorities. “We can start an extradition process only if he is found and arrested [in a foreign country] and we are formally notified about that,” the chief prosecutor told reporters. “That has not happened yet.”
Also prosecuted is Serzh Sarkisian’s second, more controversial brother, Aleksandr. He was charged with fraud in February several months after the NSS had his $30 million bank account frozen as part of a separate criminal inquiry.
The NSS announced early this month that it has allowed Aleksandr Sarkisian to “temporarily” leave the country after he donated $19.6 million of that money to the Armenian military.
Sarkisian, who is better known as “Sashik,” also paid $6.5 million in back taxes. The nearly $3.9 million remaining in his frozen account will also be transferred to the state to fully settle his tax debt, according to the NSS.