YEREVAN(RFE/RL) — The heads of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation and Armenia’s Investigative Committee reportedly agreed to step up cooperation between their law-enforcement agencies during talks held in Washington on Monday.
Aghvan Hovsepian, the committee chairman, met with the FBI director, James Comey, and toured some FBI facilities during a visit to the United States. A statement by Hovsepian’s press office released on Tuesday said the two men discussed a “broad range of issues” and stressed the importance of joint efforts to combat “transnational crime.”
“The interlocutors expressed hope that their meeting will serve as a warning to criminals to the effect that investigative bodies of the two countries stand ready to closely cooperate and that they cannot hide in the United States or Armenia in order to avoid prosecution,” it said.
“During the meeting the two sides reached a number of understandings on providing mutual legal assistance and deepening cooperation,” added the statement.
Hovsepian was reported to thank Comey for the assistance that the FBI had already provided to Armenian law-enforcement authorities. It has helped them “solve a number of crimes, including a case involving the embezzlement of hundreds of thousands of dollars in public funds” in Armenia. Hovsepian’s press office did not elaborate.
The FBI, for its part, is known to have contacted Armenian law-enforcement bodies during its past inquiries into grave crimes allegedly committed by U.S. citizens of Armenian descent and Armenian nationals living in the United States.
In particular, FBI officers visited Yerevan and met Hovsepian in 2010 in connection with a large-scale medical insurance scam operated by an Armenian-American syndicate. Hovsepian was Armenia’s prosecutor-general at the time.
While in Washington, Hovsepian, whose current agency conducts most criminal investigations in Armenia, also met with officials from an FBI anti-corruption division and visited the FBI’s forensic Laboratory and training Academy. According to the Investigative Committee statement, it was agreed that the FBI will train Armenian law-enforcement officers and, if necessary, assist in their forensic tests.