Senior Official Arrested on Corruption Charges

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–A former high-ranking official at the Armenian Finance Ministry who was in charge of overseeing the use of public funds by various government agencies has been arrested on corruption charges–state prosecutors announced on Wednesday.

The spokesman for the Prosecutor-General’s Office–Gurgen Ambarian–said that Levon Shahinian–who headed the ministry’s financial oversight department–was charged the previous night with large-scale fraud that allegedly allowed him to pocket about 40 million drams ($85,000). He said the money was meant to be paid to two private auditing firms.

Under Armenia’s Criminal Code the accusations carry between four and eight years’ imprisonment.

Ambarian alleged that Shahinian forged "financial agreemen’s–reports and other documen’s" to defraud the auditors–but refused to detail the accusations.

It was also unclear if the suspect has pleaded guilty to the charges.

Shahinian–who headed the Finance Ministry department since 2001–was relieved of his duties a week ago "at his own request," according to a ministry spokesman.

The department inspects ministries and other government agencies that are financed through the state budget. Some of them are audited by private firms contracted by the government.

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