But the founder and owner of the U.S.-registered company Synergy International Systems, Ashot Hovanesian, remained under arrest despite serious concern expressed by an association of Armenian tech firms.
Hovanesian and the freed suspects, Lili Mkrian and Ani Gevorgian, were charged with helping senior Ministry of Economy officials rig a procurement tender which was controversially won by Synergy but invalidated by a court last summer. Unlike them, the indicted government officials, including former Deputy Economy Minster Ani Ispirian, were swiftly freed or moved to house arrest. Economy Minister Vahan Kerobian insisted last week that the accusations of abuse of power brought against his subordinates are baseless.
On February 6, about 70 lawmakers representing Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s Civil Contract party petitioned prosecutors to release the three suspects remaining in custody. One of the suspects, Gevorgian, left Synergy last year. She is the wife of Simonian’s brother Karlen.
The Office of the Prosecutor-General made a veiled reference to that petition when it announced and commented on the release of the young women. It said they both have testified about “circumstances of essential importance for the criminal proceedings” and are now less likely to engage in “inappropriate behavior.”
Hovanesian’s lawyer, Gor Ohanian, said, meanwhile, that he hopes his client will be freed on the same grounds. The Synergy boss gave “quite extensive testimony” following his arrest, Ohanian said without elaborating.
Armenia’s Union of Advanced Technology Enterprises (UATE) denounced Hovanesian’s arrest and demanded his release on February 4. It said that “unfounded” detentions of “business representatives and other prominent persons” are turning Armenia into a “risky country” for local and foreign tech entrepreneurs.