Former Foreign Minister Arrested on Money Laundering Charges

YEREVAN (Combined Sources)Armenia’s former Foreign Minister and the current head of the Civil Disobedience Movement Alexander Arzumanian was arrested Monday night on charged with money laundering. The arrest came after the National Security Service (the former KGB) searched Arzumanians home Saturday night and confiscated $55,400 in cash. The NSS said the search was instigated on information it had relating to a recent visit by Arzumanian to Moscow, where he visited Levon Markos, a Russian-Armenian who fled Armenia to avoid prosecution on fraud charges. The NSS also raided the home of former Deputy Minister of Defense Vahan Shirkhanyan on the same suspicions. Shirkhanyan was not arrested, but is being held for questioning. The NSS charged that following an April 24-26 visit to Moscow, $180,000 was transferred to nine different sources for Arzumanian and Shirkhanyan. The NSS said it suspected that Markos was sending the money for certain purposes believed to be a reference to support opposition campaigning. Shirkhanyan explained that the money was given not by Markos but by his friends to finance his daughters wedding and the establishment of a new NGO–The Shanghai Club–for developing Asian-Armenian relations. The former minister added that the day before the raid on his home, his daughter and her fianc were kept at the National Security Service for 10 hours and were released only after his deman’s. The next day his apartment was ransacked for weapons, jewelry, and money. The search turned up $28,000. A home computer and documen’s were also confiscated. In addition to the cash at Arzumanians home, the NSS also confiscated documen’s and computers. Arzumanian said the money was being saved to buy a summer home and that it had all been earned through various legal means.

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