Corruption in Armenia: Esti Hametsek…

The aerial view of the plot in question

BY OSHIN PEROOMIAN

In what I can only characterize as the twisted modern-day version of “Gikor”, our honorable President, Serg Sarkissian, has repeatedly asked the diaspora to come and invest in the homeland and have an input in making Armenia a prosperous nation. For all those brave souls that are actually considering heeding the president’s call and do not have “friends” in the highest of places in the government of Armenia, I simply offer a story which should give some pause.

In the fall of 2005, I bought a 2,500 square meter land on the hills overlooking Yerevan (in Nork). I purchased this land from Mr. Andranik Ghulijanyan for a total sum of 88,000,000 AMD (about $195,000 at that time). The original lot size owned by Mr. Ghulijanyan was 5000 square meters. Since, I did not want to purchase the entire lot, I requested that Mr. Ghulijanyan split the parcel in two halves so that I could purchase only half the land (the amount I could afford). Mr. Ghulijanyan filled out the proper paperwork at the Republic of Armenia’s (RA) Kadatsr in Yerevan, which is the government body responsible for issuing deeds in the RA, and requested that the deed be separated into two. After doing their due diligence, the Kadastr split the original deed and issued two deeds each for 2500 square meters. As a side note, the RA Kadatsr would not have completed this process if there were any leans or judgments against this parcel of land.

After the Kadastr issued the two deeds, with the help of my lawyer in Armenia, we completed the transaction via notary public and recorded the transaction with Kadastr. The RA Kadastr issued a new deed listing me as the titleholder for the 2500 square meter parcel. To this day, no state official has called into question the legitimacy of my transaction and the deed that I hold. This is an important fact to keep in mind as you read the rest of this story.

In fall of 2006, a few months after my family and I moved to Armenia, I got a call from the Nork-Marash courthouse inquiring as to why I had failed to appear in court. I had no idea what the phone call was about so my lawyer and I headed to the courthouse to ascertain the reason for the verbal summons (verbal summons are illegal in Armenia). To our surprise, we found that the city of Yerevan had taken Andranik Ghulijanyan to court for not properly paying for the 5000 square meter land, which he had originally bought from the City of Yerevan. Since Mr. Ghulijanyan no longer owned the entire piece of the land, I was subsequently included as a defendant in the civil trial. In fact, not only was my summons to court done verbally, the civil charges against me were also entered verbally (both strictly against the rule of law in Armenia). The judge simply saw fit to add the changes against me midway through the trial based on a verbal request from the attorney representing the city.

The laws (in Armenia) are very clear in this matter. I did not purchase my land from the city of Yerevan; and, when I purchased the land, Mr. Ghulijanyan was the rightful owner of that land. My transaction with him followed the letter of the law and thus the only recourse for the city of Yerevan was to sue Mr. Ghulijanyan for the money they were owed for half the land (my half) and request his portion of the land to be returned. As a bona fide purchaser, there are several statutes (in Armenian law) that protect my purchase. The city officials had written in their brief that since they wanted the original purchase agreement of the land with Ghulijanyan nullified, it should follow that I my purchase agreement be nullified as well. Clearly not the case under Armenian law!

During our civil trial, it became clear that a group of people (kadastr employees, bank employees and other officials and civilians) had been arrested for falsifying documents and receipts and pocketing the money that was to be paid into the state treasury for the original purchase of the land (when Ghulijanyan purchased it from the city). It turned out that over a hundred transactions of this type where conducted with a massive loss to the state treasury. The state had started criminal proceedings against the aforementioned group and had seized all their assets. I will not get into how those assets were auctioned off and how much money was actually put into the treasury since no one can actually give the correct number. The items auctioned off were at pennies on the dollar and probably made the corrupt officials handling this case even richer than they should be!! The president of Armenia, at that time the honorable Robert Kocharyan, had come up with a “kam hoghe kam poghe” policy and ordered every one of these landowners (whether complicit or not in the criminal activities) be taken to civil court. It was clear from the judges manning these trials that a fair trial was not going to be possible. In nearly all the cases, the civil defendants were forced to pay what was owed to the state a second time, even “defendants” that were bona-fide purchasers who did not purchase their parcels from the city. Again, I don’t think anyone knows exactly by how-many fold these payments exceeded the original “loss” to the state budget. I was one of the lone holdouts. The lawyers from kadastr and the city said that this would simply go away if I paid what was owed to the city. It really didn’t concern them that I had rightfully purchased the land (and not from the city) and that I had paid much more than the 33,000,000 AMD that the city was asking for (the total sum was 66,000,000 for the 5000 square meter land).

In my original trial, the judge was very prejudicial and did not even want to consider the fact that there were people being held on criminal charges in this matter. Armenia law clearly states that criminal proceedings in a given case supersede the civil proceedings because any evidence and convictions stemming from the criminal trial will have a direct consequence and relevance in the civil trial. The judge did not see it that way and did not want to postpone the trial until the end of the criminal proceedings. We questioned the judge’s impartiality and made a formal request for his removal. The court magistrate, by law, had to take the matter under advisement and notify us in writing whether our request would be granted. About 15 days after our request, my lawyer called and said that he had “heard” that the judge was going to announce a verdict in my case the following day. I was completely shocked. Well, I shouldn’t say that since someone who has lived in Armenia as long as I have, rarely gets shocked at anything anymore. We showed up the next day at the courthouse and the judge was clearly surprised to see us in the courtroom. In fact, none of the other parties were in court. He read the verdict and literally ran out of the courtroom afterwards. We asked the court clerk about the response to our request for the removal of the judge and she handed us the refusal letter after the verdict was announced.

Under Armenia law, one has 15 days to appeal court rulings and we went ahead and appealed the verdict. The case got assigned to the Appeal’s Court (civil division). As an American citizen, I also notified the American Embassy about the “troubles” I was having with the judicial system in Armenia. The Embassy was extremely helpful in many ways. They offered to be at the appeal’s court proceedings and to write letters on my behalf to the Foreign Ministry of Armenia. At the first court session in the appeals division, we asked the three-judge panel to postpone the trial until the end of the criminal proceedings in this matter. The judges said that they would issue their ruling on that motion at the next session. I was very sure that the judges were going to rule against us so I asked the embassy if they could have an official present at the second session. Mr. Jeff Gringer, the deputy consul for the US embassy in Yerevan, agreed to come to the trial. As the session began and we introduced the people in the courtroom (including the deputy consul), pandemonium broke out in the courtroom. What could only be described as a scene from a badly adapted John Grisham novel, the judges called a 15 minute recess and the Kadastr and City lawyers started frantically talking on their cell phones. The court was called into session 20 minutes later and the judges agreed to postpone the trial and grant our motion. I wonder what would have happened if the ambassador had shown up at the trial (although we did not have an ambassador to Armenia at that time).

Fast-forward a few years to the fall of 2010. The criminals were tried and convicted. The state, in their criminal case, had clearly shown that the convicted were the ones who had defrauded the state. So, with the criminal verdicts at hand, our trial began once again. Even if the other laws that I mentioned in the beginning of the article were not enough, now the judges had criminal verdicts in their procession clearly showing who was to blame for the fraud perpetrated on the city. As the case proceeded, it became clear that once again this panel was not going to be impartial. After hearing all sides, they announced that they were going to issue their ruling at a specified date. We went to the courthouse on that date in order to be present while they read the verdict. In a twisted version of “the dog ate my homework” excuse, the judges told us that they had issued the ruling but the computers were not cooperating and they couldn’t read the whole statement of the verdict. My attorney asked if they could read the main ruling (whether they upheld the lower court’s decision or not) and that we would pick up the full text of the ruling at a later date. The lead judge on the panel said that the pages were out of order in the document and the whole computer system was on the “frits”. The computers seemed to be working properly for all the other rulings that they read before they got to ours. I have too much respect for kangaroos to use their name to describe this court. The lead judge said that we should come back in a week and they would read the verdict at that time. A week passed and we were notified in court that the panel had decided to restart the proceedings, the same panel that claimed that they had reached a verdict but couldn’t read it because of issues with their computer system.

In this next “phase” of the proceedings, the judges tried to see if someone would come forward and pay the amount owed to the city so that the matter could be “resolved” via settlement. After exhausting these options, the judges began with a sharp line of questioning for the lawyer representing the city of Yerevan. One judge actually asked, “Did the city sell land to Oshin? No! So why is the city asking for a land which it did not sell to Oshin”. We were surprised that the judges were taking our side and it was refreshing to see them follow the rule of law. We have the official audio-tapes from the trial where the judges harshly criticize the city attorney and tell her that their case is without merit. They essentially say that the correct course of action for the city was to sue Mr. Ghulijanyan asking for monetary compensation for the part of the land that he no longer owned and that I should not have been even included in this trial. The lawyer from the city is heard at the end of the tape saying, “The money owed to the state MUST be paid and we really don’t care who pays as long as it is paid” clearly showing the states intentions in the case (Kam hoghe kam poghe!). All indications were that the panel was planning to overturn the lower court’s verdict,….until the verdict! Clearly there had been pressure from the highest reaches of the government as is the case with nearly all matters involving the people vs. the state or the city. In fact the judges didn’t even read the verdict in court. The secretary gave us the ruling outside of court and said “Sorry, we did everything we could”. The ruling basically upheld the verdict from the first court.

We appealed this ruling to the highest court in the land dealing with such cases, the “Vechrabeg” court.

Today, October 3, 2011, I got a formal letter from the “Vechrabeg” court that it had refused to even hear my case, exhausting all options open to me within the boundaries of the RA. In their letter of refusal, there is absolutely no reason given for their decision.

In all the verdicts handed down so far in this case, none of the judges indicate what law I have broken during the purchase of the land and under which statute I must forfeit the land (because there are none!). Even the judges on the audio recording ask the city attorney “Under which statute are you asking for the forfeiture of Oshin’s land”.

I love my country. In fact, very few have made the decision that my family and I have made, leaving the “good-life” in LA for a better-life in Yerevan. My third child was born in Yerevan, and I am proud that I live in my homeland and contribute to its hopefully prosperous future (in my own way). However, the so-called sovereign judicial system here has left me no choice but to seek justice outside the boundaries of the RA. My next stop in this journey will be the European court.

We often here that the system is simply broken in Armenia and corruption runs rampant. Everything can be bought since everything is up for sale. Well, everyone who has worked and lived here has stories just like the one above, which go a long way to prove that premise.

Oh, what would Gikor think…

Authors

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78 Comments

  1. ruben said:

    It’s a pity to hear stories like this, and I am sorry for Oshin’s ordeal, I just can’t understand what has Gikor to do with this case? Namak Rusac Tagavorin would be a better exapmle.

    • Barello said:

      You say, “We were surprised that the judges were taking our side and it was refreshing to see them follow the rule of law.” This doesn’t follow. That is, you give the impression that the “judges were taking [your] side,” and, making a leap in logic, thus, “follow[ing] the rule of law.” The law, and logic, for that matter doesn’t work that way.

      In the U.S., for example, the Bona-Fide Purchaser doctrine, U.C.C. 2-403 (I believe), is rather complex. In particular, in the U.S., a “thief” does not hold good title, meaning that purchasers, whether bona-fide or not, cannot receive better title than a “thief.” For instance, if you steal my iphone, sell it on amazon to buyer Poghos, and Poghos sells it to buyer Tatos; even if Tatos had no idea about the original theft, which is likely, Tatos still does not hold good title to the phone. Which means, in short, that the original owner of the phone can attempt to reclaim his phone from Tatos.

      The property, in your case, if originally procured as a matter of criminal fraud from the City, is open to question whether the original fraudulent purchaser could transfer better title to you, whether or not you knew, or were a bona fide purchaser.

      Law is not fair, and life is not fair. And although I make no claim that Armenia, or its judicial system for that matter, is satisfactory, your grievance may be a matter of purposeful ignorance on your part. You could have inspected before you purchased. It is not enough to simply “follow the rules” during purchase and then later claim ignorance or lack of criminal complicity.

      If the law in Armenia didn’t give you a fair shake, well sadly that’s the law in many places. You can find thousands of cases in the U.S., and around the world for that matter, where people have been “hurt” by the law. And according to who is hurt, it was unjustified, corrupt, or a matter of incompetence. Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn’t.

      I have as much sympathy for you as I would for the people in the U.S. that have their property taken by the State to build shopping malls, etc.

      Good luck

      • Oshin said:

        Thanks for your comments Barello. I had originally decided not to comment, and wanted to simply let the article “speak for itself”.

        However, it seems that perhaps I wasn’t clear enough in the article. We are definitely not talking about a stolen iphone on ebay (although ebay’s fraud protection policies seem to work much better than the RAs). Let me walk you through the steps and see if your response still applies (maybe it does and I am entirely wrong).

        1. Andranik G. (AG) purchased 5000m from the City for which he paid 66million AMD.
        2. The employees of the state and bank officials only transferred a tiny sum of this amount to the state treasury and pocketed the rest.
        3. AG received (and had) a valid deed issued by the state. Due diligence was done to make sure that there were no issues with the land. This was done not only by my lawyers but also by the equivalent of what would be the title company and county recorder in the States (one unit in Armenia called Cadastre). If the “iphone” was stolen, they would not have issued the deed.
        4. I purchased the land following the letter of the law and received the deed and title from the same institution named in item 3. On that title the following words are written (and I paraphrase) “This document is the sole legal document/proof proving that the titleholder has the right to sell/rent etc. etc. the land” (or iphone).
        5. Eight months pass from my purchase. The state finally realizes that its employees and bank officials have committed fraud. This only after a routine traffic stop where the cops find forged checks in the car.
        6. The state takes the landowners to trial, including the ones that did not purchase the land from the city directly.
        7. The Cadastre lawyer in each trial was asked if the titles issued were fraudulent or forged and his answer repeatedly was “No”.
        8. Every judge we have been in front of has privately told my lawyers that we are completely in the right, but…..

        As for the “leap in logic”, I apologize for giving a wrong impression. I was simply happy to see the judges following the law (and taking our side in the matter).

  2. Agnes said:

    And this is why I have yet to set foot in that country. I would rather spend my money visiting Italy or Greece. I wish I could say I was surprised, but I’ve heard way too many stories like the one
    above. This just disgusts me.

    • Taline said:

      You must remember that Armenia is a country. Do you really believe that there is no corruption in Greece and Italy? Do you think tourists, even locals don’t get tricked in these countries? You must accept the problems of the country, do what you can in your power to improve it and embrace the beautiful things our country has to offer. I myself have experienced a similar story. Despite all that I will continue to be a true believer in the upward progress of my homeland and soon hope to take part in the process of its improvement.

  3. A. Aslanyan said:

    Thank you Oshin. This was astounding (not shocking though) to read, You story will serve as a tale of caution for myself as I try to make life in Armenia as a “Hayrenadarts”. I wish blessings upon you and your family as you are truly “Hay” and worthy of the name of your ancestors.

  4. Krikor Sarkissian said:

    What a shame !!!My brother in law moved to Armenia..telling me come over and let’s build up our homeland.
    Well ,reading and hearing these type of very sad and unjust stories makes me mad AND angry.Reminds of a story i heard when i was living in Lebanon.I will just give the punchline..”O tut siroon, hoght siroon,choort siroon”..and his suitcases were gone! i would expect something like this in a Turkish court but NOT in an Armenian court. SHAME SHAME SHAME !!

  5. Avetis said:

    I would also like to mention that one must be an absolute idiot to purchase land near a powerful radio transmission tower. During the Soviet years, residences were kept a least one kilometer away from the tower. After independence, and with the onset of Western style crony capitalism, all restriction were removed in the name of money. I hope Oshin has good medical insurance for when he comes down with cancer.

    • Araxi said:

      Sooooooo TRUE. People should spread this information far and wide, not only in Armenia but in whatever country or place Armenians live.

    • Avery said:

      nothing is ever wrong with current RoA government, right Avetis ?
      is that the best you could come up with – the victim of fraud is an “absolute idiot” ?

      every crook in the chain gets a pass, but the victim is the one who is at fault.
      and of course, everything during Soviet times was great, and everything that is wrong in Armenia today is either the fault of the West or Capitalism.

      • Sergik said:

        Very good point Avery, that was great response. Avetis forgets about poor Oshin’s intention which is to help the homeland.

  6. Norin Radd said:

    Since the early 1990s there probably have been hundreds if not thousands of Armenians like Oshin that have immigrated to the Fatherland only to be swindled, strong armed, and robbed of their investments and in some cases their very lives. As much as many Diasporans love our homeland, we must also come to the conclusion that it is today filled with a government system that is run by uneducated, unintelligent, no class thugs.

    Many “officials” in RA from local mayors and regional governors all the way up to federal posts such as parliament members were street thugs that prior to independence could not write their own name on a piece of paper (and still can’t). From “local gangsters to government officials” is the progression of today’s RA public offices, how can we expect anything more than thievery from these types of individuals? More importantly, how have we allowed the fate of a whole nation to rest in the hands of a few dozen thugs?

    Nearly all of them have no respect for any sort of rule of law, in fact they laugh at the idea of following the law. Nor are they interested in establishing such rules within Armenia’s societal framework because actual rule of law would impose limits and accountability on their actions and their lawlessness. They continue to pilfer and plunder at the heart of Armenia and its people with impunity. With each passing year, Armenia is becoming less of a modern nation state and more like a feudal monarchy composed of 95% serfdom and 5% invincible Lords led by a King that either lacks the courage to change his court and establish rule of law or simply benefits too much from the existing corruption to do anything about it.

    Armenia herself cannot hold out or suffer like this for much longer. The people within are hopeless, there is military aggression chipping away at our nation from the outside and internal corruption is rotting the core of a once dreamt of homeland. Fat government official pigs are buying up real estate in european countries and living large from their ivory thrones that were built from the bones of Armenian citizens. ALL diasporan political groups including the ARF should cease all support of the government of Armenia whether that government is that of Ter-Petrossian or Sargisyan. Many in the Diaspora used to see Armenia as a beacon of hope and potential in the first days of independence, now a days, most Armenians you speak with are simply so jaded with the going-ons of the homeland that they have simply ceased to care as Diasporans, which essentially also seals the fate of the Diaspora community via centrifugal assimilation.

    Though this seams like a rant, the reality is if a proper caring and lawful government does not come into plain view of the people and earn the people’s trust again through rule of law and justice in the near future, Armenia will not survive the first half of the 21st century as a nation state. No nation on Earth can survive from external onslaught as well as internal lawlessness and butchery.

  7. Lucy said:

    This is just unbelievable. How can our president urge diasporan Armenians to come and invest in their homeland, when this is a rampant issue in Armenia. You will never know that you are part of a larger scheme and could lose $195K of your hard earned money.

  8. Alec Baghdasaryan said:

    How sad that we need to read stories like this and even get the American Embassy involved in our countries affairs. I applaud the writer’s decision to pursue this matter because it seems this is the only way we can resolve such issues and bring some dignity to Armenia’s judicial system. Having said this, investments in Armenia by Diaspora Armenian is probably one of the most valuable assets we have as a nation and I believe, we need to continue making them and deal with such situations because it is only through such documented cases we can change the system in Armenia. I say documented cases, because we often have issues with exaggerated stories (through hear say).

    The irony in this situation is that in spite of the Diaspora Armenian angle of this case, the bigger fact is that similar situations happen to all Armenians. In fact from reading this article, I don’t believe the person is victimized because of being an American Armenian.

    I also like to think that current President may not be aware of what is going on in every court and that it is just some bad apples in the country causing these issues.

    Finally, at least as far as the rights of Diaspora Armenians, I hope that one day there will be a vehicle so the Diaspora Armenia’s through Diaspora Minister and Consul General’s office and the Ambassador can help solve similar situations for Diaspora Armenian because, again, I believe investments in Armenia by Diaspora Armenians is very valuable to Armenia. There are many professional Armenians leaving outside Armenia that can take their knowhow to Armenia, setup businesses and help our country grow.

    Thank you for what you are doing for our country and good luck with the case in the European court.

  9. Ishkhan said:

    Dear compatriot I am very sorry for you, but not surprise. Hopefully you have not been among the superficial people who called “Davadjan” to their frustrated patriots, who tears in their eyes, they impelled to leave their beloved motherland for good.

  10. ZARMAIR said:

    Now we know why Kirk Kerkorian dissolved Lindsey and chose no longer to get involved…It’s a shame that this still goes on…The waited opportunities to improve whatever remains of our nation will be written in infamy

  11. george J.mahroukian said:

    Khelki guekan mi orrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr……………………………………………………………………….

  12. Hrach Kalsahakian said:

    Dear Oshin, obviously you exhausted all your means inside Armenia and now you have full right to go to European law. What will others do who do not have the will and financial means to go through all these kinds of complications? You did your investment in 2006 and after five years you end up fighting in the courts with nothing sure for the future. Lip service is what the leaders in Armenia do and will continue to do so as long as Diaspora Armenians love to hear hypnotic words.

  13. Ruby Minas said:

    Dear Oshin,

    I think you should sue the number 1 thug, Robert Kocharyan, who rubbed Armenians during his miserbale years as president (it was shameful to see that gangster as president of our beloved country) obviously the “kam hoghe kam poghe” helped him to buy his islands in bankrupted Greece, that shows how brainless he is or was!!!

  14. Sarkis Janazyan said:

    I hear such stories all the time. Unfortunately, this situations are happening to often in our beloved country. How can the officials and the public expect to be part of the European Community when corruption and injustice are ruling the country. Until Armenian government fixes these embarrassing deeds they can wish about joining the European Union. Stuff like these makes me appreciate the working laws of US. I love Armenia and hope to God that one day justice will prevail.

    Thanks

  15. An Armenian said:

    Dear Oshin,
    Very sorry to read this horrible story – I was born in Yerevan but emigrated many years ago because (in particular) I couldn’t stand the almost total corruption among those who hold any sort of power in Armenia. Your decision to return and fight is a brave one, I can only wish you success in proving your case. The corruption has reached levels where it is a clear and present danger to national security of the country, but the so-called presidents and parliamentarians are busy filling their bottomless pockets. The moral state of the people in power is probably worse than it was in the times of the Soviets…

  16. Andy said:

    You are not alone, in 2006 myself and a friend we each bought 2 piecess of land next to each other and paid $25,000 for each land, we did all necessary paperwork, we went to the city hall, talked to the mayor, made sure all is legal issues involving the paperwork was in order, so we though, in 2009 I wanted to build a house on my lot, turns out the broker and employees at the city hall, forged all the paperwork took the money and nowhere to be found.
    Now I’m diaspora Armenian from US I can go to court in Armenia but all that hassel, travel back and fourth
    buisness disruption, and who knows who will bribe the judge to keep poponding the dates so you get so sick and tired of the whole thing, we each took our losess and forgot all about it, later talking to other people here in US we found out we were not the only ones.
    We need to warne people here, so there will be less victms, it is a shame but that what happing there.

  17. The Truth said:

    Sorry i was not finished with my comment -pls take this one!

    Well, my condolence. The system being designed to serve individuals and not the people and ‎country!!‎
    Any way, why and when did the city decided to sell this hill at all? If I were the mayor of ‎Yerevan I would reserve this hill (shown above) for a park / green area with 1000´s o f tree ‎for the city- since the city needs a big forest ‎

    To be honest people in AR sold me plot of land for a price 10 times more than it was and is ‎really worth. But this is a different issue (Cadastre, Notaries, Judicial system, head of most ‎villagers, mayors, road police…) the whole system is corrupt. I would say the established ‎‎“oligarchy system” has even sold Hrazdan river , lakes, mines , waterfall, forces and so on .‎

    If there is corruption in Azerbaijan or Georgia .. and in theses countries even if 95% of ‎budget being stolen by ruling elite ( and so on) , still they have enough to spend for the ‎country – this is the differences! Which in hayastan is not the case ( Oligarch / ruling party = ‎constitution/law)- Today, not Turkey and Turk-Azerbaijan is threatening the existence of ‎Hayastan but corruption. And there is no need even to speak of “political culture” sine i am ‎afraid that the ruling elite and Levon´s ANC would lead the country to a civil war ( March 1. ‎was one step cloes to it)- all political forces ( including Dashnaks, Ramkavars, Henchak, ‎Robert, Levon.. ) have there own share and guilt for allowing corruption to become a ‎widespread disease of society . Corrupt oligarchy system NOT being established in the ‎country over night! . Political parties and church – if any exists- should think of the situation! ‎Armenian people and history would (will) not forgive them,,,‎

  18. Nerses said:

    What a joke So called court In Armenia , the political elite in Armenia any but decent call them veils call them disgrace eventually I’ll call them ugly bastards ….. they have to learn Armenian first F***k them cunts..

  19. Z. Ken Darian said:

    This is a shame, Knowing that this kind of thing can happen, It would not hold me back from investing in Armenia

  20. AraK said:

    What a shame! As the great Vahan Tekeyan once said: “Why do we love Armenia? We love Armenia for her past.” Present Armenia is not better than any African corrupt regime! Shame on us!

  21. Sonya said:

    Dear Mr Peroomian,
    I am sorry that you had such an unfortunate experience and I find it a bit alarming that 105 people have already ‘liked’ your story. I agree that there is rampant corruption in Armenia which needs to be dealt with but I would have to argue your point that EVERY individual has such a story or that the ONLY diasporans that have succeeded in repatriating an opening businesses know people in high places. Quite the contrary – the diasporans that are living there today: 1. Are hardworking 2. Optimistic 3. Persistent 4. Tenacious 5. REALISTIC. We as Armenians have many issues to resolve and in the realm of politics and policy making and the ‘youngness’ of our nation as a ‘democracy’, we are no different to other countries that are results of post Soviet independence and I am tired of hearing diasporans knock down Armenia over and over again as if its supposed to be some utopia because of a bad experience they had. YES – its not the USA, and its not Europe and it has a long way to go and people DO indeed get burned sometimes but writing an article such as yours in a diasporan publication which would taint the mind of 1,000’s of hopefuls or possibility of business venture or repatriation on Armenia….well, from my point of view its simply poisonous. I am sorry for your experience, but please, like most of the other pessimistic and negative diasporans out there it doesn’t help. Corruption is part of reality in all countries and is an issue perhaps that should be burning on the forefront of Armenian effort as much as Genocide recognition (if not more) but your experience is hardly something that happens to all of us who took the plunge. I encourage anyone who wants to do business in Armenia to think carefully about what they want to do, research it carefully, live in the country, understand the way things are, and chances are you will succeed.

    • SevVochghar said:

      I Totally agree. These stories scare further the scared western Armenians who already are looking for excuses to not give up their latte’s from Starbucks, 3 story homes, and 28 dollar cigars. (not to say that all are) Regardless of the handful of negative experiences that we here about and thing about constantly. (Because the average human has 66,000 thoughts a day 3/4th of which are negative) It makes sense that we only remember and share stories such as these with others and defend our rights to collectively stay cowering in fear of our homeland. There are many successful Western Armenians that are doing just fine in Armenia. I wish this family the best and feel that their case will come to justice. Armenia is not perfect that is probably why you can but real estate for cheap there. But the fact is that our British imperialistic system of couch imperialism in not going to make much of a difference in Armenia from our Western homes and offices reading newspapers, sending a few dollars, and felling emotional satisfaction and fulfillment when a project were involved with in Armenia registers a slight success. If you want to rid Armenia of corruption please by all means lets go to Armenia and do so, lets live in crappy apartments with 20 inch tv screens. eat pad pink lunch meat and build a county together but lets not just discourage each other with concentrating on only the bad situations. I wish the best for the Peroomian familly, and I wish that all of my concerned compatriots that have commented here muster the streght inside them to return to their home country re commit themselves to their beliefs and build on their homeland with thier own hands the Armenia that they would like to see. Menk enk Mer Sarei, Arants Mez mer Ardere ge mnan ander.

      • Artur said:

        SevVochghar,

        Armenia used to experience the influx of Armenians from Diaspora: in the 20-30th of the 20th century , when Armenians from other soviet countries ( mainly form Georgia and Azerbaijan) came to live in Armenia, and the second wave after the Second World War, when Soviets allowed non-soviet Armenians to repatriate to the country. Both cases were relatively successful (more people stayed in Armenia than decided to return) Why? Because in both cases the state guaranteed that basic rights and freedoms of the newcomers; they received what the Law provided for them (yes, the Law did not provide much and was not the best Law , but still the State enforced this law and it gave the sense of stability and security. Basically, more people came and stayed in Communist Armenian in 1940s (around 150 000 people) than to independent Armenia Why? Because, The modern Armenian state fails to provide guarantees for not only newcomers but also for the locals and therefore, all the words like
        “If you want to rid Armenia of corruption please by all means lets go to Armenia and do so, lets live in crappy apartments with 20 inch tv screens. eat pad pink lunch meat and build a county together” do not hold a drop of water. Look! THE COUNTRY IS ALREADY BUILT, ITS INSTITUTIONS ARE IN PLACE; RULES OF THE GAME ARE SET UP; THOSE WHO WISH TO COME AND LIVE THERE MUST FOLLOW EXISTING RULES BUT NOT TO INVENT THEIR OWN OWNS; This is not Palestine of the early 20th century where the Jews had to start from the scratch. Armenia is a full fledged country. Not you but the Armenians that live in Armenia must be the drivers of reforms but as we can see they either, like Sonya, try to convince the others that “Corruption is part of reality in all countries ” or, tend to leave the country and send money to their relatives. My firm belief is that if Armenia really wants investments (not only Diaspora investments) its Government should create proper conditions and laws and the most importantly to enforce these laws; then investors will come. They will come from Japan, China, Europe , not only Armenians but the Armenians will be at the fore front of them. The country just need to create conditions.

    • SevVochghar said:

      Great Statemnt Sonya.I Totally agree. These stories scare further the scared western Armenians who already are looking for excuses to not give up their latte’s from Starbucks, 3 story homes, and 28 dollar cigars. (not to say that all of us are) Regardless of the handful of negative experiences that we hear about and think about constantly. (Because the average human has 66,000 thoughts a day 3/4th of which are negative) It makes sense that we only remember and share stories such as these with others and defend our right to collectively stay cowering in fear of our homeland. There are many successful Western Armenians that are doing just fine in Armenia. I wish this family the best and feel that their case will come to justice. Armenia is not perfect that is probably why you can buy real estate for cheap there. But the fact is that our British imperialistic like system of ‘couch imperialism” in not going to make much of a difference in Armenia from our Western homes and offices reading newspapers, sending a few dollars, and feeling emotional satisfaction and fulfillment when a project were involved with in Armenia registers a slight success. If you want to rid Armenia of corruption please by all means lets go to Armenia and do so, lets live in old soviet 50 meter apartments with 20 inch tv screens. eat low quality pink lunch meat and build a county together but lets not just discourage each other with concentrating on only the bad situations. I wish the best for the Peroomian family, and I wish that all of my concerned compatriots that have commented here muster the strength inside them to return to their home country re commit themselves to their beliefs and build their homeland with their own hands the Armenia that they would like to see. Menk enk Mer Sarei, Arants Mez mer Ardere ge mnan ander. (Please aprove this comment- I made some spelling edits)

    • Artur said:

      Look, Sonya

      What you are saying sounds at leas strange: ” live in the country, understand the way things are, and chances are you will succeed”., we are talking about doing busisness not about charity. “understand the way things are ” means ” be prepared to pay bribes and do not expect any protection from the court system”. This is absolutely wrong. Nobody will come to Armenia as an investor then, because partiotic feelings can’t and shouldn’t offset the lost of money you had earned by hard work.

      You are writing: “we are no different to other countries that are results of post Soviet independence” No, you are wrong. There are Bultic states: Litva, Latvia, Estonia, which from the very begining set up the rule of law as a supreme priority that encouraged their development and latter contributed to the EU accession. Rule of Law and efficiant and robust court system are the crucial preconditions for any coutry to attract insvestments, Youngness has nothing to do with it. If you are young and break the law you will break the even when you have grown up. Why? Because this is the only way of life you know; because it’s much easier to extort the money from a rish diaspora armenian than to do somehting with own court system

      • Gikor djan said:

        If someone is going to invest in a viable business, they should not do so in Armenia. If they just want to give their money away to stimulate the Armenian economy, then just go to Armenia and pass out cash to the natives. This is a much better bet with a greater return.

        I am reminded of conference on economic crisis in Armenia on May 25, 2009 at the AUA.

        The final session was with the former Prime Ministers of Armenia. The question was asked about protection of investors of the Diaspora following the murder of a businessman from California, Nazareth Berberian. Of the responses, which you can find on the web by searching for the text that follows, not one of the former Prime Ministers had something positive to say about investing in Armenia. The one comment which was the shortest of the comments, is most fitting for Oshin’s situation and it reads:

        “Armen Sargsian: I think that there’s no example of a any investor from Diaspora or anywhere else unfolding serious activities without having connections with the authorities. I’m talking about big business. Any businessman chooses a country where his rights are protected by law. That is to say, the problem is connected with the judicial system. Otherwise he himself should try and protect his own rights through different existing connections, which leads to <<>>. Armenia in this sense is a very corrupt and risky country… People without connections may find themselves in similar situations, for which I’m expressing my condolences. However, the reality is such. The issue is in the judicial system.”

        If the former Prime Ministers can be honest about the situation at hand, we should to and not accept it by doing as a native HAS to do to survive, but do as the written law prescribes. This is what Oshin has done and I salute him for this. May more Diaspora Armenians and natives do the same, so this is no longer the exception, but the rule. And if everyone follows Oshin’s example, you will in fact hear less and less cases like this and the perpetrators will see that their criminal acts are no longer tolerated!

    • Arto said:

      Sonya, I agree with you completely. Its finally good to see that the Armenian State is trying to reclaim looted and plundered land stolen during the Levon Der Petrossian regime, and they’re actually naming and prosectuting the criminals. If they didn’t do this, the diasporans would say they’re corrupt. Now that they’re doing it, the diasporans are still saying they’re corrupt. The fact that some of these comment writers are proudly claiming they’ve never been to Armenia and would go to Greece to spend their vacation money says a lot about the ignorance of these readers. Forget that the elites in Greece have looted the country to such an extent that the next 3 generations are going to have to pay dearly for it, but the Armenian State trying to recover stolen lands is much worse apparently. Unfortunately, the methods the Armenian state are using are a little crude and unprofessional but that too will improve over time as the newer, smarter generation moves up and the ex-soviet crowd moves out. This is truly a shameful article indeed and aims to instill hate and resentment in the Armenian community abroad towards their homeland. There are problems in Armenia, as in all countries, but this is not the way to fix those problems. Shame on Asbarez again.

  22. Jack Der-Sarkissian said:

    Dr. Peroomian is a brilliant engineer who has made a bold decision that he and his family will “walk the talk” about rebuilding Armenia by permanently living there after having grown up in Los Angeles. It’s fair to say that the journey mentioned is probably not the one he and his family intended to experience. It is heartening that the country is prosecuting such crimes; however, Dr. Peroomian should not be the one to bankroll moral lapses of corruption.

  23. Aboulian said:

    I’m inspired to see you are not settling for the verdict.
    “One man with courage makes a majority.” ~Andrew Jackson

  24. Betty said:

    I am not at all surprised to have read the above.
    NO WAY in my life I would get the Armenian Nationality or even invest a penny in a corrupt country like Armenia.
    The corruption is nothing new…
    My own brother is and always has been a corrupt person and robbed me and my parents for years. And this happened after he went to Armenia to study!! They give lessons to graduate PHD and Masters degree theives!!
    I guess being corrupt and theives is the speciality of the Armenians….
    Shame on you.
    Sometimes you people make me ashamed to say that I am an Armenian and hold an Armenian name.
    I thank God I was not born in Armenia, though I have visited it twice and those were the worst days of my life!! I will not do it the third time for sure.
    I thank God that I have another nationality.

  25. Random Armenian said:

    This is infuriating. When things go right in Armenia, it needs to be talked about and encouraged. When things like this story keep on happening it also needs to be talked about openly to discourage it and motivate the citizens of Armenia to complain.

  26. Kevork Hagopian said:

    As another Armenian American living in California, I have heard similar stories from friends and relatives about Armenia and its judicial system. We all love our homeland and support it. However, there are limits to any love affair and blind devotion.
    As an investor in properties I was very upset after reading this story and my heart goes to Mr. Oshin. I advice all future investors in Armenia- BUYER BEWARE.
    Here are two short stories that are genuine true stories that happened to two investors that I know personally. A gentleman from Los Angeles invested almost one million U.S. dollars and opened up an automated bakery in Armenia. After a year his investments were lost because while he was away on trips back and forth to L.A people who were running the bakery were stealing all the income generated from the bakery. End result he lost everything and swore he will never invest a penny in Armenia.
    Finally, another investor became partners with an Armenian wine producer in Armenia. The initial investment was over a million dollars. Guess what happened! You guessed it right. Everything was lost within a year due to theft, corruption and unorthodox means of running a business. There are hundreds of horror stoties that we hear of people losing their life time savings in Armenia. Why Armenians keep on doing it? Because love is blind- our love for our homeland Armenia is limitless. Kevork

  27. Gary said:

    Sad, really sad…………here I am, I’,m supporting my own 21 year old daughter to waste her time (4 months) by volunteering and helping a government branch in Armenia. I Just hope you be successful next time in European court and kick some ass against these scum bags. Please, keep us posted via Asbarez. Thanks, and good luck.

  28. ARA said:

    Well- I am not surprised but one thing is clear here-CRIMINALS at work- One thing has always been made clear to me in business- CAVEAT EMPTOR= buyer beware.

    N ot sure what you did -right or wrong-but I am sure you are one of many many many folks and not the last- the lawyers doing the work for you-well-here they would be liable-have to pay u for all losses and costs-or they fooled u too-in other words-they were NOT an attorney- I can say-caveat emptor-buyer beware. a long time joke here u may know of- wannah buy my land itneh everglades – I will give u a deal-= 2500 acres for 2500 dollars-one dollar an acre-hey-send the money-HOW COULD U GO WRONG!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I say the same here-someone fooled yah!!!!!!!

  29. Raffi said:

    I also don’t know when the courts in Armenia will begin to enforce the actual laws, but it’s great you are taking this case to the European courts. That truly is the only way to resolve these issues today, and if enough people take this route perhaps the Armenian courts may begin to save themselves the embarrassment and enforce the actual laws, rather than the will of certain people.

    Meahwhile, from the photo at the top of the article, I hope that hillside your land is on is does not become developed. I understand you bought the land in good faith, but it was not privatized in good faith and that used to be a forested green space over Yerevan. I hope that one day it again becomes such a green space…

  30. Edward Demian said:

    As a retiree, I have been considering resettling in Armenia. I have been digesting and devouring every article about Armenia and Artsack, from all sources including the Azery ones. But this article is surely given me a wake up call. I am sure that I am not the only one. This is not the only story I have heard. Horror stories about abuse and lawlessness. Obviously, there is no security and no law in Armenia. That the strong prays upon the weak, and the law is shallow, arbitrary. The former Communist legal system which is inherited from the Napoleonic code is the problem. The reason America is considerred a good place to live , is it’s “common law” legal system. While not perfect, it serves the common people best. While I may still go to Armenia, I will have to think ten times before I bring my savings into the country, or invest there. And that is the diference between Israel and Armenia. Respect for private property, is the first and most important value that needs instilling. One way I think that would go far towards stoping the theft, is to convict the perpetrators to forced labor in the service of the victim. Be remanded to the victim as a chattel servant, to work until the debt is paid.

  31. sam said:

    after reading your story now all those who were against the investment in turky by the champion arc.bishop barsamian got the correct answer .it is a shame to constantly hear this type of story .i’m not defending the investors i hate turky but on the other hand who are those thieves which are running the country for their own pockets the diaspora armenians are not stupid they are hard workers and smart and gained the trust and the honesty of the local people in every country they went to.one advise to the govrement of armenia if this lawless situation will continue pretty soon all the armenians will leave armenia and they will govern the sheeps and cows and the rest of the animals

  32. Nick said:

    Oshin,

    Wish you the best of luck in court, I hope you receive the justice you deserve. I do have one question: If you bought land in the US, with falsified documents that you believed were legal (any scam that took money from you for a product that wasn’t really up for sale), what law is going to protect you and let you keep an illegally purchased property or give you your money back? If the State ignores the contract you had signed (which happened to be falsified by crooks), but you followed all the laws in the book at the time. Seems like the current government is trying to fix it a loophole in the system. Not trying to provoke you or undermine your claim, just curious if such laws exist in the USA or if it did during the 1920’s -1940″s. We all saw how many crooks stole billions from the middle class and got away clean, right here in America. Seems to me like Armenia is 1920’s America when it comes to laws, they don’t have white collar crime, yet, it’s all out in the open and the people are oblivious to it. I hope you bring some light into issues as such, fight the good fight and don’t give up hope! I don’t know if we can blame the Soviet transition here, we’ve been independent for too long… Wish you the best of luck. Please keep us updated on how things pan out.

  33. Onik Tchertchian said:

    Dear Oshin,
    Knowing you very well personally as well as your remarkable character, your faith in your motherland and the purity of your intentions, I am chagrined to see that this unGodly act has been your fortune. Although it does not surprise me as I have had the experience of doing business with the RA for several years and thought that I knew more or less what went on however, I did not know the extent of it.
    Anyway, don’t give up but go all the way to secure your rights. We are there to support you.

  34. Vahe said:

    I have moved to Armenia from the US as well. While I have no stories of my own like the one above to tell, I want to warn those planning to do what Oshin and I did – unless you’re ready (have patience and money) to fight the system, don’t move. This is a very corrupt country… with a lot of hope. There is a smart and bold young generation that is fighting the corrupt rulers of our land. There are many positive things now but (and it is a BIG but) unless you’re a fighting optimist – don’t come.

  35. Gagik Melikyan said:

    It is so disappointing … I can imagine how much time and efforts have been wasted by the author to deal with this. I think this letter should be sent to the President, Prime Minister, and also Diaspora Minister to alert them once again what is going on on a lower level. And these cases should be brought up each time the administration is trying to repatriate people to Armenia with programs like Ari Tun. Unless Armenians feel welcome in their own country, and unless the rule of law is established, people will always choose western countries over our Motherland. It’s sad, but it’s a reality.

  36. George Andeweg said:

    Dear Mr.Peroomian,
    Thank you for the courage in writing this letter.And thank you for standing up for the silent majority.We must not let few unwise and short sighted officials hijack Armenia form Armenians.

  37. Raffi said:

    As I said, Oshin will certainly get justice in European courts – as will any other Diasporan who has a similar court case. So don’t be afraid of the corrupt courts here – that problem is already solved by taking it to the European courts.

    Regarding Armenians who’s business partners swindle them however, I don’t understand the Diasporans in this case. Who goes to Mexico, makes a million dollar investment and leaves it to Mexicans they don’t know to run? Who would do that and expect not to be robbed? Why would they treat Armenia differently? When you invest that kind of money, you bring in outside managers, you have independent auditors YOU choose come in and check on things in your absence, you switch them around, you have automated systems… you don’t just tell Pedro or Gago to send you a check every month.

  38. Reader from Armenia said:

    This is one of the millions similar cases… Therefore we end up far away from our beloved homeland, to be rescued from dangerous life which is almost same as the die.
    Unfortunately…the White Genocide is going on in nowadays Armenia, really comparable with those in 1915. Even worse, because nowadays generation can’t learn anything else rather than… poverty, corruption and so on. Taleat Pasha and Sultan Hamid would have been jealous to this plan realizing by Armenian government now against this oldest nation in the world.
    SHAM is the kindest word towards to our nowadays genocide making government. One hundred corrupt people are killing the future of our Homeland.

  39. Glendale Resident said:

    The Turks themselves could not do what our own “leaders” in Armenia are doing to our own country today. Shame on this administration, shame on previous administrations, and hopefully all those who have damaged our country would one day be brought to justice, just like Romania’s Ceauşescu, just like Sadaam, and just like Gaddafi.

  40. Loris Yadegarian said:

    Oshin Jan,

    I am NOT only saddened to hear of these series of events…but, utterly outraged and angered by the RA’s transgressions in bastardizing the “rule of law”. I cannot say I am disappointed…since, that would demonstrate childlike naivity in such matters. In 2010, Armenia was ranked 123rd on the Corruption Perception Index….tied with Madagascar, Niger, and Eritrea (wonderful company!!!!). There is always some level of corruption in all societies; however, if the legal recourse against such behaviour is tantamount to complicity through duplicity…..then, one should cut their losses short. Life is too short to waste one’s time and energy on such matters.

    Your experience tells you how rotten to the core the system is…and by default….the RA. This way of thinking in inherent in the region….a by-product of both Tsarist times and Soviet rule. I would have ZERO tolerance in dealing with these people. That is why I have NEVER set foot in the MOTHERLAND….nor, do I have any intentions of doing so in the future. I have cut myself in all shape or form from the Diaspora movement to aid the homeland. I have also been highly critical of the RA and its puppet bankrolling lifeline….the ANC.

    Yes….I am Armenian by descent. I suppose others would say they are proud of that. I am not sure how one can be proud of something that they have no control over. On the other hand, we do have control of one thing. That is how we spend our days on this planet. As an atheist, I don’t believe in an afterlife…nor, do I believe my actions will reward me later. I just simply live by the Golden Rule. Unfortunately, the RA has many generations until they fully grasp this concept. Henceforth, I absolve myself of any intrinsic guilt in aiding my brethren. Other than speaking the same language, I have no connection to the people in the RA.

    Oshin, you are a far better person than I. You are making a true sacrifice. One, I could and never would. I hope your day of Justice will present itself in the European courts. Good luck!!!!

  41. Sety said:

    As a patriotic Armenian organization, Asbarez and our other mass media institutions must help coordinate and see to it that this national economic development disease and any other well documented case such as this one, to get to the highest offices of Armenian Presidency and Cabinets as well as any European trade treaty structures. For the sake of our nations survival and salvation, we must each as Armenians commit and relentlessly pursue these issues until corruption and tierney are under control and wheels of justice are in motion for protection all Armenians in homeland and abroad. Silence and indifference will only fuel and encourage current operatives to plunder our nation more. Thank you for publicizing this national tragic issue.

  42. Grish Begian said:

    It seems to me there is no law for land registry transactions, and deed registry protection in Armenia, and lawyers are powerless against corrupted judges!!Those naive buyers must be very careful to know all the angles before giving money to sellers…a lawless and corrupted municipality system like city of Yerevan, where land registry and city registry employees are on payroll of corrupted oligarchy officials, who can duplicate hundreds of new names for one piece of property with the help of newly installed “magic copier” in their head office, can complicate the system so badly, that victims are better off to leave the country, than fight ..I wonder how many people can get caught for these kinds of corruption, directly or indirectly, and how many naive Armenian buyers can lose their investment money toward those lawless and out of control oligarchy criminals..

  43. Raffikian said:

    Don’t be harsh on our motherland, corruption is a reality almost in all countries, including Europe, try to do business in Lebanon and you will see.

    • Grish Begian said:

      Dear Raffikian,
      I do not compare Armenia with Middle Eastern nations, as you mentioned, even Lebanon…I compare Armenia with well advanced European nations such as Sweden, Denmark, Finland…if I compare with Iran, Syria and Libya, and Sudan, then you are absolutely right, then corruption is everywhere including in Armenia….. proud and “hyrenaser” Armenians are deserved to have a happy nation, right government, right army, and “less” corrupted country!!

    • www.Voskanapat.info said:

      Agreed. Even in this country suppose you purchased a piece of land, built your dream house and then a Hollyburden, LLC decides to build a resort and needs your land to keep their dumpsters or a BigPharma, Inc. wants to turn your neighborhood into a “Research Park”… You are out of luck – the land will be taken from you and given to the corporate crooks thanks to the Supreme Court’s Kelo v. New London (2005) decision.

      Back to Armenia and Artsakh – there should be free economic zones allocated by the governments for diasporas to repatriate in organized way. Imagine for example five settlements 5,000-10,000 each completely built and populated by Armenians from France, USA, Lebanon, Russia, and Canada/Commonwealth. They should have everything that could be found in their countries of origin, plus subsidies to run their businesses in a country under an illegal NATO-sponsored blockade. This could be a healthy competition between the Diasporas. Only the second generation would be able to completely reintegrate into the mainstream society.

  44. facts said:

    Police ( officers ) were for many years busy manipulating tachometers and were busy ‎plundering the budget for gas/petrol ( policy was so rude, that they used even to ask private ‎car mechanics for help) .. this was widely common practice… ruling elite knows what is ‎going on.- corruption If you want you can buy almost every notary and so on … I have the ‎feeling corruption in Hayastan has become part of daily life of people and unfortunately ‎Diaspora Armenians are getting use to it too !!!… e.g. everybody single person traveling ‎form iran to Armenia knows how much is to be paid, in order to escape car inspection at the ‎border…for this reason often people have to wait unnecessary and all this in a transit area ‎with most dirty hygiene facilities /sanitation – a shamefull situation!

  45. PZ said:

    Oshin, i think the best way to deal with this stressful and enormous time wasting matter is to treat it as your part in nation building and helping improve the system in Armenia. The noise you make and the battles you win, all go toward helping prevent future similar problems in Armenia. So hang in there…

    One who comes to live in Armenia must be prepared for this type of battles, and if more diasporans moved here and struggled against similar problems, it would help speed up the process of improving the country. Armenia needs less complaining diasporans about Armenia in the diaspora, and more former diasporans complaining about Armenia within Armenia. For those who wear Armenia on their shoulders, have had successful careers in the US, paid off homes and real estate income they can live off of or work that they can do from Armenia… I have one word of advice to you, move to Armenia and do your part in nation building… you can leave your mark in history by living in Armenia and fixing this country from the inside.. enough of superficial annual fundraisers and genocide events…

  46. gabe korajian said:

    Dear Mr.Peroomian,

    I cannot express how upset I am about your problem and the magnitude of corruption in Armenia. However, your case is not an isolated incidence; unfortunately. We hear such stories on corruption taking place in Armenia on daily basis. It is really shameful…Totally deplorable! As a person who provides consultation on mitigating corruption in developing countries, my advice to you is…..Go to the European Union court system and perhaps through the State Department, press charges against the perpetrator in the Los Angeles Court system. This way, the Armenians who live in the United States can clearly understand the magnitude of corruption in Armenia. Besides, if we can take banks and insurance companies to court from the genocide era in the USA, I see why you would not be able to do the same with this case. Also make sure you include prominent Armenian news and media organizations that operates in the USA to report this case to the public regularly. Such abuses can only be stopped through exposure. From my experience, exposing such ills is a responsibility that goes beyond retrieving your loses… It helps people realize that enough is enough; let’s bring these perpetrators to justice…I hope to hear more about this case. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you need any assistance.

  47. HArut said:

    Wow why is every one being so hypocrit of what happen to this guy, things like these but in a diferent way happens in the USA look at it like these how many realtors sucked people into loans and than they lost their homes how many realtors are behind bars in the USA because of fraud and bad business practice and all of the sudden this guy got taked for a ride and you peoples heart starts bleeding he should of went thru the right channels . yes dont get me wrong things are diferent in Armenia as they are in the US or elsewere in this case, so jumping right away and being a critic of the homeland is very wrong and i wont be surprised if ANCis not involved in these case, and want to put to shame our homeland people wake up and look around you, there are 14000 Armenians in the US jail system yet no one is doing anything about making our comunity a better place every one out to get the other person, wake up people look around us, why would you just be a critic of something that happen in Armenia and start talking crap about it, did any one asked the guy were he got hismoney and how he got it, and i’m sure he didntmake that money from selling sujux basturma or baklava.

  48. Rodney Surewood said:

    I don’t understand this constant drumbeat about ‘Western Armenian’ investors presumably bringing big dollar projects to Armenia. Apart from Ralph Yirikian and Eduardo Ernekian, who else is there to speak of ? The latter, btw, demanded and received major tax concessions from the government before so much as lifting a finger.
    Russian investments make up over ½ of the large cash infusions going into Armenian economy. Whether by a state-owned company or Russian nationals of Armenian descent is immaterial.
    Why is it that whenever a ‘Western Armenian’ spends a couple bucks to start a shish kebab stand in Yerevan, the rest of the Hayastanci are supposed to be jumping up with joy ?
    It was different in the day of the KGB agent LTP when poverty was savage, and most people were eager to work for a miserable $100 a month.
    Today Yerevan boast a Stefano Ricci boutique where for a mere $40 thousand, locals can purchase a crocodile jacket.

  49. Hayk said:

    I am so surprised you guys think it is simple to buy a land or establish business in Armenia and successfully run it. I am Armenian and live in US for over 15 years, but I came back for 4 years trying to see if our country truly changed and we all can function as we function un US society. Unfortunately corruption is sponsored from the top and I simply returned to US thinking that my family and my health is more important for me. Living in Armenia and dealing with corruption, rude and bribed government officials is a hassle. You never have any guarantees in Armenia for anything unless you know someone in the ruling party or government. The whole system is a mess, it is a mafia run by the presidents(All of them including Ter Petrosyan). Very few honest and good people in Armenian government and they usually in places where there is few opportunities for corruption. I would state that 90% of all Armenian officials are corrupt. The country took advantage of all of us who came back and tried to open businesses or help. This government does not with our help, but people and country does. So, the issue here is to figure out how to help country, but harm deeply corrupt government.

  50. Elizabeth said:

    ALL these small countries are corrupt- whether they be in Europe or most any other place. Including the US- we just have a better checks and balances system and free press to weed things out. The people are desperate for money- and they’ll steal, lie, and cheat to get it. Even if it means endangering the Diaspora efforts to rebuild our beautiful nation. I love Armenia, but if the officials don’t stop this gangster mentality, we will no longer have a homeland to call our own. Astvatz help us…

  51. Sarkis said:

    We believe and we portray ourselves as Europeans because we celebrate Christmas and New Year’s. Sorry guys, but the truth is, we are light years away from having European behavioral habits.

    The following short story is one example to demonstrate how small things may mean a lot. Last June I was catching a plane in Geneva en route to Spain then to Paris and Yerevan. It was an early morning EasyJet flight, and the security gates were still closed. However, there were already 50 to 60 passengers there, waiting for the gates to open. There was no distinct line-up and the people were loosely scattered over a large area. New passengers joining the group were simply stopping and dropping their bags at the boundary of the waiting area. Although there was no queue, not a single person attempted to walk straight to the gates. When the gates finally opened, there was no stampede to get there first, no pushing and shoving, no rudeness. I was flabbergasted by the calm and the order of the entire well-mannered operation.

    A few weeks later, arriving in Yerevan via Paris, there were 2 planes arriving almost at the same time. My flight was Armavia with 8 people on board, the other was Air France with about 200 people on board. Soon the scene at the arrivals area was transformed to something like a noisy street demonstration. You could hear people shouting and yelling as the herd approached the escalators at the mezzanine level. Then the rushing, pushing, shoving and trampling started, not just by the young, but also by baby-boomers, all freely contributing to the locomotion and adding to the high volume of noise. No matter how many people were lined up in the zig-zag, all wanted to get to passport control before the person standing in front of them. Since most of them didn’t need visas, I assumed them to be well-off locals who could afford travelling to France, or French Armenians bearing Armenian passports. I was flabbergasted a second time, that those of us who were borne and raised in Europe, didn’t pick-up something small from the European environment.

    Queuing displays the image of respect you bear for the “rights” of your neighbor.
    Queuing is non-existing in Asia and Africa…..

    As for the “rights” of Mr. Oshin in Armenia, clearly the City representative didn’t care about “who would pay for the land”, as long as somebody paid for it. He didn’t care about the law or Mr. Oshin’s “rights”. Probable translation: some corrupt higher-up official had put his name on the money to be collected.

    Last but not least, about those who blame the Soviet era, the young age of our republic, about people who do not want to give a chance, etc. to explain the corruption phenomenon in Armenia; my opinion is that we only have to blame ourselves. During my 2 previous visits, I have spoken to numerous people from all walks of life. I have spoken to and dealt with people who were borne since 1990 and before, and have come to the conclusion that all people in Armenia behave in the same manner, the man on the street is no different from the people in power. The psychology of lawlessness, of cheating, grabbing and deceiving has been imbedded in the behavior of all Armenians. Sadly, this lawlessness is practiced upon our own brothers and sisters, locals or diasporans. Some people have given up hope that this will ever change.

    Finally it is a fact that lawlessness is holding back numerous baby-boomers who would be more than willing to help, by bringing their knowledge and know-how, and spending at least 6 month/year in Armenia. I remain optimistic that the Minister of Diaspora will reach out to all Armenians who are willing to build and live in a society of law.

  52. David said:

    Just need to reiterate Sonia’s point: “…writing an article like this in a diasporan publication which taints the mind of 1,000’s of hopefuls or the possibility of business venture or repatriation in Armenia is poisonous.”

  53. Caroon Gharakhanian said:

    While this is terrible and discouraging for any Armenian to hear anywhere in the world, I still have hope… if we are looking at Armenia as a new nation, just gaining its independence and still in a period of transition, we can’t look at it as the ancient Armenia we have learned about in hayots badmoutyun. It’s going to take time and effort to rebuild the nation and find ways to enforce the laws. There are tons of crooks in Armenia and at least we know it, it’s not a ponzi scheme or mortgage fraud like things we hear about in the States. It would be great to hear success stories and have case studies on this stuff to help out future investors and outline some strategies. We have quite a ways to go and it’s not going to be easy but we shouldn’t give up.

    • Osik said:

      Dear Caroon;
      “Find ways to enforce the laws?” That is very interesting; those ways are not lost; it is right there in the constitution:
      Judicial independence (also known as the independence of the judiciary) is the idea that the judiciary needs to be kept away from the other branches of government. That is, courts should not be subject to improper influence from the other branches of government, or from private or partisan interests.

  54. Friend said:

    I really understand the pain this guy is going through. Let me very briefly tell you another story related to the judicial system in Armenia. An Armenian/American by the name of Hrayr Aganikian (US Citizen), who devoted his life to Armenia since the beginning of the Artsagh war, is now in prison. This is the reason.
    Few years back, some people have borrowed money from him to open businesses. Combined, about $100,000.00. When the time came to pay him back, those individuals paid a portion of that money to corrupt investigators and a corrupt prosecutor so they bring up fabricated charges against him. Mr. Aganikian had many notarized and legal papers regarding the business transactions but nothing helped. The judge (just as corrupt as the investigators and the prosecutor) found him guilty on different charges and gave him 9.5 years in prison. Not only they took his money but also sent him to prison for almost 10 years. One more thing. When he gets out, they have put about $80,000.00 as different penalties and fines.
    The case went to the “Court of Appeals” – (Verakknich – in Armenian).
    With more evidence and testimonies provided by Mr. Aganikian, the judges did not change the verdict. He has one last hope with the (Vchrabek Dataran – in Armenian) which should be within the next few months.

  55. Haroutioun said:

    Of all the give and take I read here what “Rodney Surewood” said made the most sense. I am very upset at Asbarez for getting into the business of airing dirty laundry. This is not a “news” item; this is one man’s claim. He may or may not be right and I don’t care who he is. Frankly, I am not impressed with most diapsorans who think the Armenian nation owes them something for having visited there or moved there. Be humble. Be respectful. Be genuine. Don’t keep bad company. Know who you are dealing with. Know the nature and the character of the fledgling nation. Don’t over bite and you’ll do well in Armenia. Having said that, these types of problems occur in all nations. Much worst stuff occurs right here in the US. But I don’t see reputable US newspapers discussing it publicly. I have property and some money in Armenia. I have been splitting my time between Armenia and US for many years. Other than small/unessential/petty stuff, we have not had a single major problem there. I feel safer (in all senses of the word) in Armenia than I do in the US. I know of many diasporans who live comfortable lives Armenia. Many of them have business. And no the “mafia” does not bother them. The mafia bothers those who overextend or play dirty or attract to much attention. Yes, there are problems in Armenia. But what you people are doing here is no way to go about addressing it. All of Armenia’s problems are natural for a post-Soviet nation full of poor people and with no experience in nation building and in the remote Caucasus of all places. All these tabloid types news reports about Armenia are hurting Armenia not helping. Asbarez has to stop participating in the information war being waged against Armenia and go back to reporting the NEWS.

  56. Vahe' said:

    After 32 years living in beutiful Long Island, NY , 3 years ago I left to live and work in Armenia. As a foreigner, you don’t invest, you don’t expand, you just live and try to reduce your expectations and somehow be satisfied.
    You can’t have real happy life in Armenia !
    The only way in distant future to have normal country depends on diaspora to immigrate and populate this land.
    By their presense , honest behaviour, culture and VOTEs , this land might become bearable.
    Corruption is in the blood of state employees , disrespect to each other is the rule of survival for local inhabitants.
    Sa Hayastann e’ , Du qo tann es !!!

  57. ArdeVast Atheian said:

    All of the countries in the world without exception are plagued with judicial corruption. The key is a completely open and free market economy. All government services and functions should be privatized. All should be in competition with each other. All disputes should be resolved openly on the internet, where everyone could see. All voting should be conducted on the internet where everyone can follow.
    Very easy for a computer savvy people full of i-pads. Kirk Kerkorian alone could finance a system like this if only the voters in Armenia asked for it.

  58. Sam said:

    Thanks for posting this article. I have heard similar stories from others. The first step in improving the broken system is exposing the problems. Diaspora is already afraid to invest in our homeland. These articles should hopefully expose the wrongdoers and bring change from the top down. Thanks again for the article.

  59. Noel said:

    There are two distinct ethnicities in the world who have a sizable diaspora that are well integrated into their host countries; the Jews and the Armenians. Luckily for the Jewish state, their diaspora generates unbelievable amount of capital and political support to the point that they can dictate the foreign policy of their host countries as is the case in our US of A.

    Unfortunately for Armenia, the successive governments in the past 23 years have failed to attract the type of investments from the Diaspora that could have propelled Armenia to the top of the list of the ex-soviet republics. Instead you hear from the state Departments reports that Armenia ranks amongst the worst corrupt countries next to Azerbaijan. Georgia has managed to implement certain policies that has minimized the corruption and they are attracting significant amount of foreign investment without even having a diaspora.
    I do not get involved with the day to day politics of Armenia much but I am yet to hear of a success story of a diaspora Armenian, whether from other diaspora countries or Armenia native who have tried Oshin’s experiment and succeeded.
    The only success story that I know of today is in the hi tech industry and that is because the officials have not figured out a way to extort the system of custom software development since it does not involve any tangible assets.

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