Melkonian Trust Monitoring Group Meets with Patriarch in Support of Legal Action

ISTANBUL–The Armenian Patriarch of Istanbul Mesrob Mutafyan–held a meeting with members of the Monitoring Group on the Melkonian Trust (MGMT) to discuss the pending suit against New York-based Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU). The January 24 meeting took place Armenian Patriarchal headquarters in Istanbul.

The MGMT members thanked the Patriarch for his willingness to act on the issue in order to assure that the historic school continues to function.

As reported on January 20–Archbishop Mutafyan–in his fiduciary capacity as Patriarch of Constantinople–filed a lawsuit against New York-based Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) on January 13–2005. The suit–which mainly addresses the formal announcement made by the AGBU in March 2004 that it would be closing the Melkonian Educational Institution in Nicosia–Cyprus at the end of the 2005 school year–was filed in the Superior Court of the State of California for the County of Los Angeles by plaintiff Mutafyan’s California-based attorney Mark Macarley.

In July 1921–wealthy Armenian businessman Garabed Melkonian donated a gift to then Patriarch of Constantinople Zaven Der Yeghyayan–to establish and maintain Armenian schools–as well as carry out various charitable works for the Armenian people. In 1924–the value of the gift was at least $3.5 million and per Melkonian’s request–an Armenian school and orphanage named the Melkonian Educational Institute was established in Nicosia–Cyprus.

In 1925–Patriarch Der Yeghyayan transferred the entire Melkonian gift–including the Melkonian Educational Institute–to the AGBU due to the latter’s expressed ability to better manage the trust’s assets and execute the donor’s intentions.

Archbishop Mutafyan informed the members of the MGMT that he first became aware of the existence and contents of the 1926 Deed of Amendment to the Melkonian Trust on December 28–2004–through the Melkonian Educational Institute Alumni in Los Angeles–and emphasized that he is now cognizant of the multiple obligations the AGBU accepted from his predecessor–Patriarch Der Yeghyayan–in 1926.

The suit–Arch. Mesrob Mutafyan vs. Armenian General Benevolent Union–petitions to compel AGBU to perform the Trustee’s duties and redress a breach of trust by payment of money or otherwise.

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