Armenia’s Investigative Committee said on Tuesday that the number of state officials and other individuals prosecuted by it on corruption charges more than doubled last year.
In a detailed statement, the law-enforcement agency, which conducts the vast majority of criminal investigations in the country, revealed that it opened 1,077 corruption-related cases in 2018, up from 403 such cases in 2017. It said presumed embezzlement or misuse of public funds accounted for the largest share of those inquiries, followed by almost 130 alleged instances of bribery.
The Investigative Committee said 382 individuals working in the central or local government bodies, the security apparatus and other public institutions were charged with various corrupt practices as a result. It reported a total of 77 corruption-related arrests of these and other people, compared with 23 arrests made in 2017.
The committee did not specify whether the bulk of these actions were taken after last spring’s mass protests which toppled Armenia’s former government accused by its political opponents of not only tolerating but also sponsoring corruption.
Public discontent with widespread graft is thought to be one of the reasons for the “velvet revolution.” Nikol Pashinian, the revolution leader elected prime minister in May, claims to have already eliminated “systemic corruption” in Armenia.
The most high-profile corruption probes launched after the revolution have targeted relatives and cronies of Serzh Sarkisian, the country’s deposed former leader. In particular, one of his two brothers, Levon, was charged with “illegal enrichment” after tax inspectors discovered in June 2018 that he and his two children hold almost $7 million in undeclared deposits at an Armenian bank. Levon Sarkisian, who is known to have worked only in the public sector, apparently left Armenia shortly before being indicted.