A court in Yerevan refused on Monday to allow investigators to arrest Mikael Minasian, former President Serzh Sarkisian’s fugitive son-in-law prosecuted on corruption charges denied by him.
Armenia’s State Revenue Committee (SRC) moved to arrest Minasian in late April one month after charging him with illegal enrichment, false asset disclosure and money laundering. A district court judge agreed to issue an arrest warrant for him on May 6. The decision was overturned by the Court of Appeals on June 4, however.
A few days later, the SRC broadened the criminal charges leveled against Minasian. It said that he had also failed to declare his “de facto” ownership from 2012-2018 of a 49 percent stake in Armenia’s largest food-exporting company.
The SRC went on to seek another arrest warrant for Minasian. A different district court judge rejected the demand following an overnight hearing. It was not immediately clear if the SRC investigators will appeal against the ruling.
“The accusations are completely baseless,” insisted one of Minasian’s lawyers, Amram Makinian. He again claimed that his client is a victim of “political persecution” overseen by the Armenian government.
Minasian enjoyed considerable political and economic influence in Armenia when it was ruled by his father-in-law from 2008-2018. He is also thought to have developed extensive business interests in various sectors of the Armenian economy.
A vocal critic of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian, Minasian left Armenia shortly after he was dismissed as ambassador to the Vatican in late 2018. In the last few months, he has posted on Facebook a series of lengthy video addresses to Armenians accusing Pashinian of corruption and misrule.
For his part, Pashinian has repeatedly accused the 42-year-old of illegally making a huge fortune during Sarkisian’s rule.
Minasian has so far declined to reveal his current place of residence. He has said instead that he is not returning to Armenia because he believes the investigators are acting on Pashinian’s orders.