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Former ‘Oligarch’ Faces Charges


Armenia -- Businessman Ruben Hayrapetian speaks to journalists after being released by police, Yerevan, February 4, 2020.

A law-enforcement body has decided to indict Ruben Hayrapetian, a wealthy businessman linked to Armenia’s former leadership, his lawyer revealed on Tuesday.

The Investigative Committee refused to give any details of the latest criminal case relating to Hayrapetian.

The lawyer, Amram Makinian, said the committee summoned Hayrapetian for questioning on Saturday despite being aware that he left Armenia on March 16 and cannot come back due to the coronavirus-related absence of regular flights to the country.

“The investigating body is taking advantage of this situation to try to create an illusion that Ruben Hayrapetian is fleeing prosecution,” Makinian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service.

Makinian said Hayrapetian and his son Rafik will be charged in connection with what he described as the embezzlement of 60 million drams ($124,000) by the former manager of a luxury resort belonging to them. He said that they fired the manager and made him return part of the sum in 2016.

“We are convinced that the person who committed the apparent crime will have the status of a victim in this case,” claimed the lawyer. “We will find out soon what Hayrapetian and his son will be charged with.”

Hayrapetian, 56, has long supported former President Serzh Sarkisian and remains affiliated with the latter’s Republican Party. He used to represent the party in the Armenian parliament.

The once influential tycoon, who was notorious for violent conduct, accused the current authorities of harassing him for political reasons after being briefly detained by the Armenian police in February. The police claimed he was taken in for questioning on suspicion of illegal arms possession. The tycoon laughed off the explanation.

The detention came one day after Hayrapetian was questioned as a witness in a criminal investigation into alleged corruption in the Football Federation of Armenia (FFA) which the tycoon headed from 2002-2018. Masked police officers searched his Yerevan villa in December as part of the same probe. He was not charged as a result.

Makinian said his client is currently receiving medical treatment abroad and will be able to fly back to Armenia only after completing it. Hayrapetian will also wait for the resumption of international flights to Yerevan, he said.

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