Article 95 of the Armenian constitution bans parliament deputies from doing business and most types of paid work during their tenure.
The Commission on the Prevention of Corruption claims that Tsarukian has violated this provision by continuing to run at least some of the several dozen companies owned by him. It says that he has chaired meetings of their executive boards, personally hired new employees for them and discussed business projects with investors.
The commission has submitted a relevant report to the Armenian parliament after dismissing objections from Tsarukian’s lawyers. The latter argued that the BHK leader had to take care of his business assets because the chief executive of his Multi Group holding company, Sedrak Arustamian, is under arrest.
The leadership of the parliament controlled by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s My Step bloc is due to meet next week to decide whether to ask the Constitutional Court to oust Tsarukian from the National Assembly.
The BHK has condemned the proceedings as baseless and politically motivated. It says that they are part of a continuing government crackdown on Armenia’s largest parliamentary opposition force.
The chairwoman of the anti-corruption commission, Haykuhi Harutiunian, dismissed the BHK claims. Harutiunian said that the commission began investigating Tsarukian in July and submitted its findings to the parliament on October 26, two weeks before the start of opposition protests against Pashinian’s handling of the war with Azerbaijan.
Tsarukian’s party is one of 17 opposition forces that launched the protests following a Russian-mediated ceasefire that stopped the fighting. They accuse Pashinian of a sellout and demand his resignation.
Tsarukian, who is one of the country’s richest men, was arrested in late September on vote buying charges strongly denied by him. A Yerevan court freed him on bail on October 22.