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 Yerevan court of first instance allowed the arrest in early May. The decision was overturned by the Court of Appeals a month later, however.
The SRC responded by broadening 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. Nevertheless, investigators were rebuffed by a lower court in early July.
The SRC is understood to have further expanded the case against Minasian before making yet another attempt to secure permission to arrest him. A court judge agreed to the demand this time around.
A spokesman for the Office of the Prosecutor-General, Gor Abrahamian, welcomed the ruling. He said it allows Armenian law-enforcement authorities’ to seek Minasian’s extradition.
Minasian’s lawyers did not immediately react to the ruling. They said earlier that their 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 Sarkisian 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. He has so far declined to reveal his place of residence. According to some media reports, the 42-year-old currently lives in Russia.
Earlier this year, Minasian 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 ex-president’s son-in-law of illegally making a huge fortune during Sarkisian’s rule.
Another law-enforcement body, the Special Investigative Service (SIS), is conducting a separate corruption inquiry relating to Minasian. The probe stems from the 2010 privatization of a hydroelectric plant in northern Armenia.
The DzoraHEK plant was sold to a company reportedly controlled by Minasian for 3.6 billion drams ($7.5 million). Prosecutors say that the 26-megawatt facility was in fact worth 8 billion drams ($16.8 million).