Hovsepian, 68, served as prosecutor-general from 1998-1999 and 2004-2013. He went on to become the first head of a newly created law-enforcement agency, the Investigative Committee, in 2014. He ran the committee until the 2018 “velvet revolution.”
The Special Investigation Service (SIS) said Hovsepian was charged with bribery, money laundering and illegal entrepreneurial activity. It claimed that he also misappropriated properties worth 800 million drams ($1.6 million) while in office.
A statement by the SIS did not specify the source of a 190 million-dram bribe allegedly paid to Hovsepian or name “a number of companies” which it said were illegally managed by him during his tenure.
“In the interests of the criminal case, we cannot give other details at this point,” a spokeswoman for the law-enforcement agency, Marina Ohanjanian, told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service.
Hovsepian’s lawyer, Gagik Khachikian, said his client strongly denies the accusations carrying up to 12 years in prison and will challenge his arrest in court.
“Aghvan Hovsepian is in a combative mood,” Khachikian wrote on Facebook. “Naturally he does not accept the accusations. I am convinced that all the bubbles will quickly burst.”
Hovsepian used to be one of Armenia’s most powerful state officials. As chief prosecutor, he played a major role in a government crackdown on the opposition launched after the 2008 post-election unrest in Yerevan. Dozens of opposition members, including Nikol Pashinian, were jailed on controversial charges at the time.
Hovsepian resigned in June 2018 one month after Pashinian swept to power as a result of mass protests that toppled the country’s former leader, Serzh Sarkisian.