Panama Papers: Senior Armenian official resigns over offshore scandal

Photo: Photolure

Mihran Poghosyan, the head of the Justice Ministry’s powerful Service of Mandatory Execution of Judicial Acts (SMEJA), has announced his resignation on Monday, explaining it by the appearance of his name in the recent global offshore scandal.

Poghosyan’s name figures in the leaked set of 11.5 million confidential documents that provide detailed information about more than 214,000 offshore companies listed by the Panamanian corporate service provider Mossack Fonseca. The leak contains information about offshore assets of leaders and government officials from a number of countries and has already resulted in the resignation of Iceland’s prime minister.

The SMEJA’s official website today published the following post from Poghosyan: “My name has emerged in recent publications by Armenian and international media about the Panamanian offshore. I regret that my name is mentioned next to the name of the family of Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev, who have, in reality, misappropriated billions of dollars.

“I consider it unacceptable to become a cause of any civilizational parallel between my country and dictatorial Azerbaijan, and for this reason I tender my letter of resignation today. I will publically comment on the offshore-related publications as an ordinary citizen, without having any state levers.”

For several years Armenian media have linked Poghosyan, a 39-year-old Major General of Justice who served as SMEJA head since 2008, to different lucrative businesses in Armenia.

In 1997, several years before taking his first public office, Poghosyan founded a limited liability company called Catherine Group, which is known to be engaged in lucrative imports and distribution of foodstuffs, including fresh fruit. Poghosyan, however, has denied having any connection to the business today.

Modest declarations of income by Poghosyan have often become a subject of poignant media publications, with some papers noting last year that his wife has purchased a $70,000-worth Range Rover Sport HSE SUV without having any declared incomes in 2014 and 2015.