Known Oligarch’s Company Accused Of Tax Fraud

Samvel Aleksanyan is known as "Lfik Samo"
Samvel Aleksanyan is known as "Lfik Samo"

Samvel Aleksanyan is known as “Lfik Samo”

YEREVAN (Azatutyun.am)—As part of its declared crackdown on corruption, Armenia’s National Security Service on Wednesday accused a company controlled by a wealthy businessman linked to the former ruling Republican Party of evading millions of dollars in tax payments.

It claimed that Samvel Aleksanyan’s Alex Holding group colluded with the former leadership of the State Revenue Committee to run a tax scam in the country’s largest food supermarket chain owned by it.

The NSS detailed the accusations after raiding the head office of the Yerevan City chain and confiscating documents kept there. It reported no arrests, saying only that senior company executives have been questioned as part of the criminal investigation into “large-scale tax evasion” and “false entrepreneurship.”

An NSS statement said the company has illegally sold agricultural products and “numerous” other items at Yerevan City supermarkets through 461 small firms mainly registered in the name of its employees and their family members. Some of those workers were not even aware of that, it said.

Under Armenian law, small firms with an annual turnover of up to 115 million drams ($237,000) are exempt from profit and value-added (VAT) taxes paid by larger businesses. They are only required to pay “turnover tax” equivalent to 2 percent of their revenue.The VAT rate is set at 20 percent.

The NSS statement said the fraud scheme has enabled Alex Holding to avoid making an estimated 7.2 billion drams ($15 million) in VAT payments since the end of 2016. A tax audit will determine “the precise amount of the damage inflicted on the state,” according to the powerful security agency.

The 49-year-old Aleksanyan, who is known as Lfik Samo, is one of Armenia’s richest men who has long effectively controlled lucrative imports of sugar, cooking oil and other basic foodstuffs. He has had close ties with the country’s former leaders, notably former President Serzh Sarkisian. The tycoon has been a parliament deputy representing Sarkisian’s Republican Party of Armenia since 2003.

The NSS claimed that the SRC, which collects taxes and other duties in the country, also allowed 11 other large retailers to use the same method of tax evasion. It advised them to voluntarily “re-calculate” their tax obligations before being inspected by the NSS in the coming weeks.

The SRC’s previous head, Vartan Harutiunyan, and his two deputies resigned shortly after Nikol Pashinyan was elected Armenia’s prime minister on May 8. The latter have been questioned in a separate NSS investigation launched earlier this month.

The NSS arrested late last week three senior executives of a customs brokerage company accused of failing to pay millions of dollars worth of taxes. The company’s executive director is a figure close to Harutiunyan. The former tax chief has not been questioned or indicted so far.

Artur Vanetsyan, the new NSS director appointed by Pashinyan, announced the unprecedented crackdown on corruption and tax fraud on May 19. The NSS said on Wednesday that it is determined to continue the “consistent fight against corruption and economic crimes.”

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4 Comments

  1. GB said:

    Pashinyan should hire independent agency to crack down entire Armenian oligarchic corrupt businesses, fire those corrupt government workers, who accept under the table bribe from public.

  2. Norin said:

    Lfik, Hye jogovurte, spiyurke, nor varchapete, nor serounte, bolor Hyeutyune, k**nelu enk ko nman microbenerin mer hyutyan marminic!!! 15 million in taxes not paid just since 2016, imagine how much has been not paid in the past 10 years. Tens of MILLIONS that could have gone into government coffers to fund the average citizen, the many little orphans, single mothers, mothers that lost their sons in Artsakh, soldiers that died because they had in adequate protection on the front line defending our nation.

    The new PM has lots of work to do, it will not happen overnight, but it will happen. Every individual, group, or political entity, that sees this man Samvel Aleksanyan as an enemy of our nation and our state and those like him such as that FAT PIG Shmayis, that RAPIST Suren “Liska” Katchaturyan, that inbred SWINE Seyran Saroyan, and all those associated with these men. They are the enemy of our people, and our nation.

    As the noose tightens, they will squeal and try to run, i the Diaspora they should be HUNTED like animals and put down. Today Armenia is in the state that it is because of the pilfering, robbing, trickery, and injustice that these animals have propagated for the last 25 years. Do not be afraid when you see them, in fact, if they run and should you come across them sitting at a cafe, punch them in the face as hard as you can. Our people have suffered a great deal because of these leeches and parasites. Hunt them like you would hunt the Turks that murdered our predecessors in 1915. They are not fellow Armenians, they barely qualify as human beings. Filth, dirt, excrement are words too good to use to describe the likes of Samvel Aleksanyan. PM Pashinyan, you are under the Armenian nation’s protection, we are all here to support you.

  3. Lorenz Yacoubian said:

    Time to prosecute these animals to the full extent of the law.

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