Armenia Fund Responds to Yerevan-Based Director’s Arrest

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Armenia Fund

Armenia Fund

GLENDALE—Armenia Fund Inc., the Western United States affiliate of Hayastan All Armenia Fund issued an announcement Thursday in response to Tuesday’s arrest in Yerevan of Hayastan All Armenia Fund’s executive director, Ara Vardanyan, on charges of misusing and misappropriating of funds from the organization. On Thursday, Ara Vardanyan was released from custody awaiting the end of the investigation on bail.

Below is the complete text of Armenia Fund’s statement

All of us are deeply saddened by the arrest of Ara Vardanyan, the Executive Director of the Yerevan-based Hayastan All-Armenian Fund, on allegations of abuse of authority by misusing the organization’s credit card for personal purposes, including online gaming. However, as it appears now, no donor funds have been affected and the misused funds have been fully recovered.

While it is unfortunate that Mr. Vardanyan abused his authority, his misdeed should, in no way, reflect on the hard-working and law-abiding employees of the organization, its worldwide partners, including Armenia Fund in the United States, the generous donors worldwide, the contractors employed in Armenia and Artsakh and the countless volunteers. We will await the findings of the investigation.

Armenia Fund is an independent U.S. based non-profit organization that uses Hayastan All-Armenian Fund as an implementing agent for its specific humanitarian and infrastructure development projects in Armenia and in Artsakh. The funds collected in the United States go toward specific projects, the implementation of which is monitored by Armenia Fund.

Hayastan All-Armenian Fund is an organization that has enjoyed the trust of hundreds of thousands of donors around the world. Throughout the 27 years of its existence the Fund has implemented thousands of large-scale socio-economic development projects that benefit hundreds of thousands of people in Armenia and Artsakh.

After the devastating 1988 earthquake, Hayastan All-Armenian Fund brought urgent humanitarian aid to the people of Gyumri and continues to remain the largest distributor of permanent housing in the earthquake zone. In the darkest day of the newly-independent Armenia, it provided heating fuel and bread, countering Turkish and Azeri border blockade and saving thousands from starvation during the freezing winters of 1992-1994.

Since 1995 and until today, Hayastan All-Armenian Fund is the largest implementor of large scale humanitarian relief and infrastructure development projects in Artsakh providing recovery from a devastating war and seven decades of Azeri occupation. Recently, the Fund initiated innovative infrastructure projects including development of solar energy and irrigation networks using latest technologies. And, of course, the Hayastan All-Armenian Fund’s signature projects remain the strategically vital Goris-Stepanakert and Vardenis-Matakert highways connecting Artsakh to the outside world and making Artsakh’s very existence possible.

Hayastan All-Armenian Fund’s mission is far from over. Armenia’s and Artsakh’s needs are enormous. The actions of a single person cannot overshadow the immense achievements of this legendary organization, nor should it cast any doubt on the role it plays in the development of Armenia and Artsakh.

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24 Comments

  1. Hagop said:

    WHERE IS THE MENTIONING THAT ALL THE BOOKS OF ARMENIA FUND ARE INDEPENDENTLY AUDITED BY A NON-ARMENIAN, THIRD PARTY???? THE FOXES ARE GUARDING THE HEN HOUSE!!! EXACTLY HOW DID THIS VARDANYAN GUY GET AWAY WITH DOING WHAT HE DID?? WHERE IS THE OVERSIGHT? CHECKS AND BALANCES? ADDITIONAL SIGNATORIES??? WHAT KIND OF SECURITY DOES ARMENIA FUND HAVE—–OR NOT HAVE?!?!?!?!

    THERE ARE STILL WAY TOO MANY QUESTIONS THAT MUST BE ANSWERED!!!!!!!!!! THE DIASPORA DEMANDS IT!

  2. Edward Demiraiakian said:

    And yet, with the responibility of securing and managing all that money, no steps were taken to safeguard the funds. Normally, in any business, the money, is separate from the spenders, by multiple layers of approval checkers. As to Credit cards, They should spend their own money, and submit an expense report, and wait for approval from the comptroller, and a check after that,from the Bookkeeper.

  3. Armen said:

    Not convincing at all. it took you guys this long to come up with a statement and this is all you got?

  4. Armen Norendzayan said:

    HAS ARMENIA FUND FIRED ITS EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR ARA VARDANYAN WHO HAS ALREADY CONFESSED OF MISUSING THE ORGANIZATIONS FUNDS?

  5. Norin said:

    I guess my question is, WHERE is the oversight? And why does any single individual have the ability to spend that much money on organization credit? Figures of spending are estimated at nearly $300,000 in total! This is a direct result of poor governance and organization, simply unacceptable for a group to handles public donated funds.

    • Serop said:

      Its obvious you have never experienced how things are done in Armenia
      Over 10M was allocated by IMF or World Bank ( Not sure) for start up businesses in Armenia, every CENT of the money was allocated to falsified applications within 3 months, all applicants with direct relationships to those managing the program and not a single true start up was funded
      Welcome to Armenia

  6. Armen Harutunian said:

    A first year accounting student would tell you there is something seriously wrong with a director of a non profit using the non profits credit card in a casino environment. The auditors of Armenia Fund have some heavy questions to answer regarding their rubber stamp. A forensic audit of all Armenia Fund accounts needs to be performed and the existing auditing firm(s) need to be held accountable…

    • herayer said:

      100% AGREE WITH ARMEN ARMENIANS ARE NOT STUPID LET US HAVE THE FACTS WITH SERIOUS AUDITING PLEASE NO SUGAR COATING AND TELL US HOW HE GOT AWAY WITH EMBEZLING FOR YEARS AND WHAT SAFE GUARDS ARE BEING INSTITUTED PLEASE ARMENIA FUND LET THE CHIPS (TRUTH) FALL WHERE THEY MAY.

  7. Antranik said:

    No matter what the outcome of the investigation, Mr Vardanyan cannot continue as the fund’s executive director. Sadly he has lost every once trust and he has to live with that guilt. Time will show if he has learned his lesson and stopped gambling.

    • Papik said:

      Are you seriously trying to gain sympathy for him with this comment? Pathetic

  8. herach said:

    I agree with your statments and hope that the action of a thief will not cause any influences on doners (personally no doubts for the Armenia Found). Lets hope that all the other corrupters will be end in jail and we shall be proud for our Armenia as before.

  9. Sharon Giragosian said:

    While it is unfortunate and suspected that the Armenia director lacked the honesty and integrity necessary, I can personally attest to the integrity and honesty of the US director. She has my 100% trust, as I know her to be an amazing and unselfish person who truly cares and is dedicated to Armenia and the many projects undertaken.

  10. Hovik Derashotian said:

    About 13 million dollars were raised last year for the water projects in Artsakh. How much of the funds have been dedicated to the projects in Artsakh so far.

    • Norayer honarchian said:

      Give ma credit card of Armenian fund I’ll spend and then later on will return or not
      shame on him (ara). I almost donate every year and now I question myself should I do again
      is that a tip of an ice berg? who is accountable ? who are the auditors ? are they qualified
      or they might be like (ara) I shame myself and disappointed a lot, I am kind of pissed off and nervous

  11. Raffi said:

    TRUST BUT VERIFY. Russian proverb, the phrase became well known in English when used by President Ronald Reagan.

  12. Mike Pizzi said:

    This organization has lost the faith on many Armenians world wide long before this event. I stopped donating a long time ago. The contracts they hand out are a sham and they coordinated with the Armenian goverment. The rest of the directors are going to be summoned, this is just the beginning!

  13. Suren said:

    As a professional fundraiser, this is my worst nightmare. The fact that it happened, that the response was this tepid, and no mention that Mr Vardanyan has been fired or otherwise disciplined would make any fundraiser worth his/her salt cringe. I refer you to http://www.afpnet.org for industry standards for fundraising ethics and accountability.

  14. Serop said:

    I have ZERO faith in those people in Yerevan in power
    My family from 1997 to 2011 donated $10,000 a year or $1000 a year to 10 families of martyred soldiers from Artsakh war
    Upon my visit in 2011 and speaking to some of the families, on;ly 25% of our support was passed on to the families.
    We stopped the payments and organized cash payments directly, cutting out the so called Armenian Group managing the program

  15. Serop said:

    Appoint an internationally recognized Auditing firm from Europe and lets have some clarity here. Stop these vile thieves & their partners in government.

  16. Mark Minasian said:

    Terribly written, tone deaf communique. Varsanyan is the result of lax internal controls and the willful blindness of the board. All should resign and a new board installed. The damage your board has caused has Aliev smiling broadly. Step aside and elect a new Board of Directors which will put in real standards and controls.

  17. hg said:

    All along I knew there is an abuse of fund mismanagement and fraud, just waiting for this to pop up. Why he should have a credit card, to begin with, where is outside annual accounting report?
    It is a shame on this organization when hard working Armenians in diaspora collect this fund for the poor and infrastructure in Armenia, but the fund is used for gambling and who knows what. If this organization want to exist in the future, needs to get the FAT RATS out and get the public trust

  18. Avo Sarkisian said:

    Unfortunately the issue is way bigger than what we just hear and see these days about our homeland’s oligarchs ( in fact the word mafia describe them accurately).
    All Armenian government (HHK member), Hayastan all Armenian fund and it’s affiliates are all criminals each at certain degrees.
    When NSS in Armenia arrested Manvel Grigoryan, his family members and some paid followers demonstrated in Yerevan that Grigoryan is innocent and demanded his release. But as soon as the NSS released the video about his corruption the demonstrators went away.
    Justice Minister in Armenia HHK member David Harutiunyan tried to defend Hayastan all Armenian funds director in Yerevan and HHK member that they have been targeted by new government. Now Mr. Harutiunyan do you need some video proves as well like Manvel Grigoryan and EX president Serge Sarkisian’s brother and their family members?. If David Harutiunyan is an honest person and not part of a corrupted people he should leave be a shame of HHK party and resign from it.
    The HHK, Hayastan all Armenian fund members have stolen, misused the funds donated by Armenian organizations overseas, US and Europe countries. Robert Kocharian, Serge Sarkisian and the list of names goes on and it’s very long list. “These gang members are rich and people in Hayastan are dying from poverty”.
    Earlier in my topic I called those oligarchs mafia and criminals. There are many cases where these members and their family member have misused their power.
    The crisis Armenian people faced for the last 28 yrs is unbelievable, poverty and lock of human rights and the list goes on.
    These years were absolutely a dark part of the Armenian history.
    One thing the HHK party members should do is to dismantle it’s organization, because the people of Armenia will never forgive them.
    Finally, I am very optimistic about our country’s future with the new government and with the support of Armenian’s diaspora.

  19. Ara Panosyan said:

    To all those who still believe this, I have a bridge to sell you.

  20. Bob Avakian said:

    Just returned from there last week and Armenia is suffering from the corrupt Communist era mindset where power conferred license to steal and feather one’s own nest. But the common people are completely fed up with all the corruption, hence the “white” or “velvet” evolution and mere month ago. We saw a sea change just in the behaviors of the common policemen!

    It will take a bit of time to root out all the bad actors,(there are so many it seems), and to reverse 70 years of mismanagement and cronyism. But its elimination will be the legacy of the revolution.

    In the meantime we cannot abandon the people of Armenia but should be more circumspect in our giving. But no organization is really safe as long as the old mindset persists. I is a process, admittedly an arduous one so brace yourself for more revelations-there is a lot more coming from any number of places.

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