Citing health reasons, a wealthy businessman prosecuted on corruption charges has postponed his return to Armenia from Germany where he was allowed to receive medical treatment early this year.
The businessman, Samvel Mayrapetian, was arrested in October last year on charges of “assisting” in large-scale bribery alleged by a fellow entrepreneur, Silva Hambardzumian.
Hambardzumian claimed to have transferred millions of dollars in cash to former Presidents Robert Kocharian and Serzh Sarkisian and another former official through Mayrapetian in 2008. The latter denied the allegation before being freed on bail in late December.
In January, the Special Investigative Service (SIS) reluctantly allowed Mayrapetian to undergo treatment in a German clinic. Doctors in Yerevan said the tycoon, who suffered from a serious form of pancreatitis, needs the kind of surgery which is not performed in Armenian hospitals.
Mayrapetian promised to return to the country after recuperating from the life-threatening disease. The SIS said recently that it expects him to fly back to Yerevan by October 15.
According to the SIS, Mayrapetian’s lawyers have told investigators that he was on his way back to Armenia when his condition deteriorated sharply at a German airport. They said that he was therefore taken back to hospital.
An SIS spokesperson told RFE/RL’s Armenian service that the law-enforcement body is now trying to check the veracity of the lawyers’ claims.
Mayrapetian, 60, is one of Armenia’s leading real estate developers who also owns a national TV channel and a car dealership. Some media outlets for years linked Kocharian’s elder son Sedrak to the Toyota dealership.
Kocharian is currently held in pretrial detention, having been charged in July 2018 in connection with the deadly breakup of post-election opposition protests in March 2008. He was also charged with bribe-taking in February this year. The ex-president denies the accusations as politically motivated.
The bribery case against Kocharian is based on Hambardzumian’s testimony. In a February interview with RFE/RL’s Armenian service, the businesswoman insisted that she had asked Mayrapetian to “take the money to the three persons” so that they “don’t interfere with my business.”
“I myself gave the money. They didn’t demand it from me," she stressed, adding that she did not meet with Kocharian or Sarkisian and does not know whether the alleged bribe reached them.
Unlike Kocharian, Sarkisian is not facing any criminal charges.