Solution of Issue of Illegal Property May Start with Ararat Cement

Armenia


Member of Parliament Haik Gevorgyan of My Step Alliance has revealed details of privatization of Ararat Cement Factory. He told the 168 Zham that in 2002 Ararat Cement was bought by Roberto, a company, for 200,000 USD. At that time, they did not reveal that Gagik Tsarukyan was a shareholder of this offshore company. And it is not clear how later Gagik Tsarukyan’s Multigroup became the owner of the factory.

Tsarukyan’s party is openly lobbying for Ararat Cement in parliament. The point is about the government’s initiative to levy imported cement additionally to support Ararat Cement. The parliament approved the additional customs fees but Tsarukyan’s party wanted more. They went as far as blackmail, and the factory staff received notices, which was a hint at an intention to close the factory. Later, however, Tsarukyan said he was not going to fire anyone.

Apparently, Tsarukyan was reminded how he got the factory and that the deal was suspicious. The decision on privatizing the factory was signed by President Robert Kocharyan. Back then the deal was said to be unlawful because there were others who were ready to pay more and make investments.

Recently Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan presented the concept of the institution of confiscation of illegal property. At the same time, the institution of transitional justice is being developed. Although Nikol Pashinyan says that the introduction of these institutions is a complicated process which will result in multiple applications to the ECHR, there may be “demonstrative processes” and “precedents” for their introduction.

Will the case of Ararat Cement become a precedent? If the compliance of privatization of the company is reviewed, it may trigger revision of other deals. It is true that in the time of wild privatization it was difficult to decide whether the deal is compliant and how the future capitalists were chosen.

The issue of property is key but the new government has decided to go back to it one year after the revolution. Even though from the very beginning a lot of circles proposed adopting a law on property which would help to regulate economic relations and resolve issues relating to property in line with law.

The regulation of property does not necessarily mean redistribution or confiscation though it does not rule these out and currently mechanisms for this are being worked out. Regulation is first of all the creation of an open bank of land, assets, mines.

By the way, the law on mines has been amended, and the owners of mining companies must disclose themselves. Will Gagik Tsarukyan tell how he became the owner of Ararat Cement and other companies which used to be publicly-owned. For the time being, he told reporters asking this question that it is none of their business.



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