The son of former Armenian president Robert Kocharyan has been charged with money laundering and tax evasion, the latest in a widening series of investigations into the former authorities and their associates.
Sedrak Kocharyan, the oldest son of Robert Kocharyan, was the first to announce that he was being prosecuted. In an interview posted on Robert Kocharyan’s unofficial website on February 18, the younger Kocharyan confirmed rumors that had been spreading in Armenia that he was under investigation, and called it part of a political vendetta against his family.
“As a member of parliament, he [Pashinyan] spared no opportunity and continuously attempted to slander and blacken the good name and honor of our family,” Sedrak Kocharyan said in the interview. “Sadly, a person has become the leader of the country who is ready to employ every method to achieve his dubious goals.”
The next day, Armenia’s National Security Service (NSS) announced that Sedrak Kocharyan had an unexplained $5.3 million in his bank accounts on which he had not paid taxes amounting to $2 million. The NSS said he had laundered the money through a complex scheme involving companies run by other members of the Kocharyan family, and had used it to buy property including the Best Western Congress Hotel in downtown Yerevan.
Robert Kocharyan is currently in detention in Yerevan, on charges related to the violent breakup of protests in 2008 against fraudulent elections. The charges against his son are the first to target his family and its wealth.
The NSS also announced that the executive director of a company founded by Sedrak Kocharyan, 42-year-old Aleksan Vorskanyan, was charged with tax evasion and had pleaded guilty.
NSS did not identify the name of the company but a review of Armenia’s official business registry turned up only one company which was founded by Sedrak Kocharyan and whose executive director was Vorskanyan: LL Bimbo LLC. According to the registry the other founder of the company is Narek Sargsyan, the nephew of Robert Kocharyan’s successor as president, Serzh Sargsyan.
Very little is known about the company. According to the database of the State Tax Service, the company is engaged in “owning and leasing of real estate or other operations.”
According to a 2017 story on the investigative news website Hetq, LL Bimbo LLC was formed in 2008 and two months after its creation had a 22.5 percent ownership share in an asphalt company owned by oligarch Mikhail Baghdasarov.
“Large-scale investigations are being undertaken to find out the legitimacy of the acquisition of numerous real estate and other assets by Sedrak Kocharyan and his family, and the preliminary investigation on the criminal case continues,” the NSS statement said.
Following the NSS’s announcement, the head of Robert Kocharyan’s office told news site Aysor that Sedrak Kocharyan planned to sue the NSS for “violation of the presumption of innocence.”
Ani Mejlumyan is a reporter based in Yerevan. Sign up for Eurasianet's free weekly newsletter.