LOS ANGELES—A US district court judge denied a motion Monday to conduct an audit of a Genocide victims’ compensation fund established by the France-based AXA insurance and ordered the account’s administrator to explain payout discrepancies, reported the Glendale News Press.
According to the newspaper, Attorney Vartkes Yeghiyan sought the audit after he discovered that the fund contained $2.5 million more than originally invisioned.
Saying the audit would be unnecessary and too costly, US District Judge Christina Snyder ordered the fund’s administrator, Parsegh Kartalian, to provide the necessary information to settle the matter.
Per the ruling Kartalian has a few weeks to voluntarily sit down with Yeghiyan, the other attorneys representing the descendants of the victims, Mark Geragos and Brian Kabateck, as well as Yeghiayan attorney Roman Siberfeld to address the matter.
Siberfeld told the News Press that id the voluntary meeting does not take place, he will ask Snyder to order Kartalian to testify in court.
“Silberfeld said the check amounts ‘vary wildly’ from $159 to more than $200,000. Records also show descendants received multiple checks, but some of them were never cashed,” reported the News Press.
Silberfeld also told the newspaper that only Karatalian can provide details about the discrepancies in the fund. Kartalian told the News Press he had not been contacted about a meeting.
“The settlement board isn’t running this show. The court is running this show,” Snyder said in court, reported the News Press. “I think Mr. Kartalian owes an explanation not to the settlement board, but to this court.”
About 100 people still need to be compensated through the fund, Kabateck told the Glendale News Press, adding that it was he and Geragos who discovered the additional $2.5 million and found the claimants who still needed to be paid.
This case stems from an agreement by AXA and New York Life Insurance Co. to establish separate funds to pay claims to descendents of Genocide victims.
Geragos and Kabateck filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles County Superior Court on March 11 alleging that Yeghiayan had defrauded the community by diverting settlements funds to fictitious charities. In turn, Yeghiayan raised concerns about how the AXA funds were distributed and whether Geragos and Kabateck adhered to the original ruling.
This legal battle has created an uproar in the Armenian community.
A week after Geragos and Kabateck filed the suit against Yeghiayan, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation Central Political Council issued a declaration calling on attorneys involved in cases related to Genocide survivor settlements to immediately submit all records to an independent audit.
“Regardless of whether these accusations prove to be true, they do have the potential to shake the trust of our people concerning national issues, despite the fact that the lawsuits in question stemmed from personal interests and were initiated and led by individual attorneys,” said the ARF declaration.
“In order to maintain –as much as possible– the trust of the Armenian people intact, we demand that the sides, independent of the court proceedings, voluntarily and immediately submit the settlement disbursements to a full and complete independent professional audit, and inform the Armenian people of the results. The process should have been carried out with such transparency from the very beginning. Now it has become urgent and critical,” concluded the declaration.
A status hearing on the case has been scheduled for Sept. 26.