Hartounian and Colleagues Freed

Nareg Hartounian

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)—Armenian-American businessman Nareg Hartounian and two of his local employees were released from jail on Tuesday three days after being controversially arrested on tax evasion charges.

Hartounian and senior executives of his food-importing company GH Storage Enterprise, Ani Mnatsakanian and Artur Galstian, were not cleared of the charges, though.

“The Office of the Prosecutor-General has said that that there is no more need for their arrest. It issued no written documents,” Ani Torosian, one of their lawyers, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).

Hartounian, Mnatsakanian and Galstian were charged on Saturday with “malevolently” evading 111 million drams ($290,000) in taxes since 2009. They denied the accusations through their lawyers.

The latter linked the arrests with a civil lawsuit filed by Hartounian against the State Revenue Committee (SRC) earlier this month. One of the attorneys also claimed on Monday that the businessman was jailed because his extended family refused to sell a 34 percent share in another Yerevan company to a group of government-linked individuals.

The arrests provoked protests from opposition figures in Yerevan and Diaspora Armenians. More than a thousand people signed a petition on the Internet demanding Hartounian’s immediate release.

Torosian suggested that the campaign was instrumental in the unexpected release of the three suspects.

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4 Comments

  1. Andy said:

    Let this be a lesson to all diaspora Armenians that they will get you, sooner or later, if you don’t bribe, cheat,
    play by there rules, you are doomed, how do I know this, I lived there for 5 years, ask any diaspora Armenian
    who has done buisness there, you will get the same story over and over again.

  2. Petros said:

    Hey Andy how can we check if you live there for 5 years or maybe you just full of it… yes its not a peace of cake to have business in Armenia just like in any other place. But this is the only place in whole world that call Armenia and probably last, Now if you want to have business there you have to be realistic .. at list . Everything there is not perfect but getting better every year its fact.. My advice to you dont go there if not ready, wait until its will be right for you (maybe never) . Stop act like they owe you anything they dont . This people live like this all they live and they have no idea what you talking about.. if you can not love it its not a reason to heat it ..

  3. Sargis said:

    @Andy – This also shows that things are changing. That the government can’t get away with anything whenever it wants. Not anymore! Unity is the only weapon that is able to fight the corruption in our country and it is only because of our united front that Nareg was released so quickly. Let that also be a lesson!

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