A law-enforcement agency has brought more criminal charges against the top manager of companies belonging to Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) leader Gagik Tsarukian.
The Investigative Committee said on Wednesday that Sedrak Arustamian, the chief executive of Tsarukian’s Multi Group, is prosecuted for his refusal to stop the “illegal” construction of a luxury hotel in downtown Yerevan which the holding company began in early 2018.
Yerevan’s current municipal administration froze the construction shortly after taking office in October 2018. It said Multi Group never received a building permission for the high-rise. Tsarukian denied that.
Arustamian’s lawyer, Hovik Sukiasian, insisted on Thursday that both the current and previous Yerevan mayors did issue construction permits to Multi Group. Sukiasian also said that Multi Group is now locked in a court battle with the municipality and the Investigative Committee should not have indicted his client before a final court ruling in the case.
Arustamian was already charged with fraud and tax evasion in September 2019. Those accusations do not relate to any of the several dozen firms making up Multi Group and stem from Arustamian’s separate economic activities.
The Investigative Committee claimed that Tsarukian’s right-hand man helped a Chinese construction company building a 56-kilometer highway in northwestern Armenia evade 240 million drams ($503,000) in taxes. It said the company also paid an Armenian firm owned by Arustamian and run by two other men 117 million drams in fictitious consulting frees as part of the scam.
Arustamian denied those charges as well. He avoided arrest after Armenian courts granted him bail over investigators’ objections. The Investigative Committee decided not to seek his arrest this time around.
Tsarukian is one of the country’s wealthiest men. His opposition party controls the second largest number of seats in the Armenian parliament.