YEREVAN, September 28. / ARKA /. In a response to a petition sent by Armenia’s prosecutor general Aghvan Hovsepian to the National Assembly to ask its permission to involve former foreign minister Vartan Oskanian as a defendant in an ongoing criminal investigation of the National Security Service (NSS) into alleged money laundering by his think, Oskanian described it as a political order.
Sona Truzian, a spokesperson for prosecutor general’s not office, said yesterday for now the matter does not concern stripping Oskanian of his parliamentary immunity, nor has it anything to do with arresting him.
The case stems from a nearly $2 million donation which Civilitas received from two U.S. companies last year. The sum was transferred from proceeds from the sale of their Armenian subsidiary, Huntsman Building Products. The NSS claims that Civilitas failed to declare the donation to tax authorities. Oskanian strongly denies that and says the case is politically motivated.
Oskanian served as foreign minister in 1998-2008. He resigned as chairman of Civilitas’s governing board earlier this year shortly after joining the Prosperous Armenia Party to run for the May 6 parliamentary elections.
"From the first day when the National Security Service opened a criminal case, it was clear to me that this is a political order, since the case is devoid of any legal content, ‘Oskanian said today in a statement
"I have not yet officially received the petition asking to lift my parliamentary immunity. This is why I refrain from guessing the nature of the charges against me. Until now they were about "money laundering", "persistent evasion of tax liabilities" or "embezzlement". I would not be surprised if other ridiculous accusations are presented. No matter what the prosecution has provided for me this time, it can not have any legal basis,” he said.
"If the purpose of all this is to contain my political activities and obstruct my criticism of the authorities, who failed in all areas, I can say unequivocally that the government made a mistake in its calculations. I am ready, even in these conditions, to continue my struggle to achieve real change in the country, “Oskanian said in the statement.
In another statement Oskanian’s lawyer, Tigran Atanesyan, said in accordance with the regulations of the Armenian Parliament, its chairman was to inform Oskanian immediately about the petition of the prosecutor general, which was not done in violation of the law. "
"This obvious disregard of the law indirectly confirms the theory that the case against Oskanian is a political persecution," the layer said. -0-