Armenia’s National Security Service (NSS) has opened a criminal case into what it says was a case of large-scale money laundering allegedly involving former Yerevan mayor Gagik Beglarian.
According to the NSS, Beglarian is suspected of involvement in illicit property deals in 2009 when he served as Yerevan mayor as a result of which the municipal budget lost 235 million drams (over $482,000).
Beglarian, a former member of ex-President Serzh Sarkisian’s Republican Party of Armenia, in March was already charged with corruption in connection with illegal privatization of municipal buildings, including kindergartens.
The NSS statement also said that although a Yerevan court has allowed investigators to arrest Beglarian, the latter is not in Armenia and has been put on the wanted list.
Beglarian’s lawyer Hrant Ananian told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service (Azatutyun) on Tuesday that his client was “surprised” by the announcement of a new criminal case. He said they were not aware of the case.
“As Mr. Beglarian’s lawyer, I have no information about this case. Mr. Beglarian has not received any notification regarding this case either. We learn about it from the media,” the lawyer said.
The former mayor’s legal representative stopped short of commenting on the case in detail yet, but said that as an expert he saw no grounds to link Beglarian to any money-laundering crime.
Ananian said that Beglarian is still receiving treatment abroad, without specifying his whereabouts. He found it difficult to say when the former Yerevan mayor plans to return to Armenia.