An indicted brother of former President Serzh Sarkisian has returned to Armenia for further questioning in a criminal investigation conducted by the National Security Service (NSS).
The NSS charged Aleksandr Sarkisian with fraud in February several months after freezing his $30 million Armenian bank account as part of a separate inquiry. It announced shortly afterwards that he has donated $19.6 million from that account to the Armenian military. It said the state will also receive the rest of the sum in payment of Sarkisian’s back taxes.
Aleksandr Sarkisian was allowed to temporarily leave the country in early March. He reportedly travelled to Europe.
An NSS spokesman told RFE/RL’s Armenian on Monday that investigators have ordered the ex-president’s brother to fly back to the country and participate in fresh “investigative actions” planned by them. He has already arrived in Yerevan, the official said without giving any details of the probe.
The fraud charges stem from over a dozen drawings by the 20th century Armenian painter Martiros Saryan which were found in Aleksandr Sarkisian’s Yerevan villa in July. The NSS said his fugitive son Narek had fraudulently obtained them from Saryan’s descendants.
Narek Sarkisian, 37, fled Armenia in June before being charged with illegal arms possession and drug trafficking. The Czech police detained him in Prague in December on an Armenian arrest warrant. Armenian prosecutors formally demanded his extradition three weeks later.
Aleksandr Sarkisian’s second son, Levon, is currently standing trial on charges of attempted murder and illegal arms possession which he strongly denies. The 33-year-old was arrested in July and freed on bail in September.
Sarkisian, 62, is thought to have made a big fortune in the past two decades. He held a parliament seat from 2003-2011.