Offshore Probe: Criminal case launched over ex-SMEJA head’s activities

Photo: Photolure

Armenia’s Special Investigation Service (SIS) has launched a criminal case in connection with the offshore activities of Armenia’s former chief of the Service for Mandatory Execution of Judicial Acts (SMEJA) Mihran Poghosyan who resigned from his post last month following a global scandal dubbed Panama Papers, SIS spokesperson Mikayel Aharonyan informed ArmeniaNow.

The criminal proceedings were launched on characteristics of Article 310 of the Criminal Code (Participation of a state official in entrepreneurial activities, which is punished with imprisonment for the term of up to two years).

The Armenian online publication, Hetq, had revealed that Poghosyan was a shareholder of three Panama-registered offshore companies that featured in the global scandal connected with the leak of millions of confidential documents concerning 214,000 offshore companies listed by the Panamanian corporate service provider Mossack Fonseca.

The revelations concerned quite a few influential political leaders around the world, including Azerbaijan’s autocratic president Ilham Aliyev.

In explaining his resignation last month Poghosyan said that he did not want his name that figured along with the name of Aliyev in the Panama Papers to lead to any “civilizational comparisons” between Armenia and “dictatorial Azerbaijan.”

“I will publicly comment on the offshore-related publications as an ordinary citizen, without having any state levers,” the 39-year-old major general of justice said in his April 18 statement.

For several years Armenian media have linked Poghosyan, who served as SMEJA head since 2008, to different lucrative businesses, including monopolistic imports of bananas and other exotic fruits.

After accepting Poghosyan’s resignation, last week Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan appointed his aide Armen Harutyunyan as acting chief of the SMEJA.