Investigators have brought fresh corruption charges against Mihran Poghosian, a former senior Armenian official who fled to Russia after being first indicted in Armenia early this year.
The Special Investigative Service (SIS) alleged on Friday that Poghosian laundered in 2015 $1.2 million in cash acquired through illegal entrepreneurship and tax evasion. It said the money was channeled into an Armenian company belonging to him in the form of interest-free loans.
According to an SIS statement, one of those “loans” worth $690,000 was transferred from the bank account of a firm registered in Panama.
“We can’t give other details at the moment,” a spokeswoman for the law-enforcement agency, Marina Ohanjanian, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service. “The investigation is continuing.”
Citing leaked documents known as the Panama Papers, an Armenian investigative website reported in April 2016 that Poghosian controls three shadowy firms registered in the Central American state. Poghosian dismissed the report at the time. Nevertheless, he resigned as head of Armenia’s Service for the Mandatory Execution of Judicial Acts (SMEJA) shortly afterwards.
A year later, Poghosian was elected to the Armenian parliament on the ticket of then President Serzh Sarkisian’s Republican Party. He was widely regarded as an influential figure in Armenia’s former leadership toppled during the 2018 “Velvet Revolution.”
The 43-year-old was already charged in April this year with embezzling at least 64.2 million drams ($135,000) in public funds while in office. He dismissed the charges as politically motivated.
Later in April, Poghosian was detained in Russia on an Armenian arrest warrant. However, Russian prosecutors subsequently refused to extradite him to Armenia.
The Russian ambassador in Yerevan, Sergey Kopyrkin, insisted last week that Poghosian was not granted political asylum in Russia. “According to my information, we are talking about a legal process, about the provision of necessary documents [to the Russian authorities,]” he said.