“In order for there to be money laundering, there must first be dirty money,” says Oskanian
YEREVAN (Combined Sources)—Armenia’s National Security Service on Tuesday issued a statement outlining its alleged money laundering investigation of former foreign minister Vartan Oskanian, who further expanded on his claim that the investigation is “politically motivated.”
In its written statement, the NSS alleges that Oskanian and the Civilitas Foundation, a think-tank he founded four years ago, have been laundering money citing a $2 million donation that Civilitas received from two US-based companies. The NSS also alleges that Civilitas failed to declare the donation to tax officials. The donation was reportedly transferred to the organization from the sale of the companies’ Armenian subsidiary, the Hunstaman Building Products.
In his statement, which was posted on the Civilitas Facebook wall, Oskanian pointed out that the case was filed by the NSS on May 25 just a day after his party, the Prosperous Armenia Party, decided to not join the government coalition headed by President Serzh Sarkisian’s Republican Party of Armenia.
“Today the National Security Service issued a statement trying to prove that the criminal case they have initiated is not politically motivated,” said Oskanian. “I repeat that it is clearly politically motivated and I do want to say the following: money laundering, Oskanian, Huntsman are words that cannot be placed together in one sentence.”
“In order for there to be money laundering, there must first be dirty money. In this case, the source of the funds are known, the buyer is known, the transfer of the funds to me and to Civilitas according to the donor’s wishes have been transparent and electronic. The attorneys have said that no tax obligation was created as a result of the transaction. And the donor’s funds “shall be considered as a donation and the Recipient has the right to use in its discretion and for the implementation of its statutory objectives,” explained Oskanian.
“Only those with political motivations will attempt to reduce a good man’s good work to political currency,” said Oskanian.
“The fact that the National Security Service deals with it means that there definitely was a political order to fabricate something against Oskanian or Civilitas. I can’t find any other explanation right now,” Oskanian told RFE/RL.
Oskanian’s claim of political motivation was backed up by fellow members of the Prosperous Party of Armenia, as well as former President Levon Ter-Petrosyan’s Armenian National Congress.
Armenian Revolutionary Federation Bureau and parliamentary bloc member Vahan Hovannesian did not rule out that the criminal case pending against Oskanian could be linked to his recent political activities.
Having not studied the specifics of the case, Hovannesian could not provide a legal analysis, but he said that having known Oskanian and his family, he highly doubted that the former foreign minister could be involved in such a serious crime.
“I know one thing, if political persecution is being veiled under the guise of a criminal case, that is absolutely unacceptable for me and the ARF. We have always been and will continued to opposed to such situation,” said Hovannesian.
Armenia’s Prime Minister Tigran Sagsyan was quoted by RFE/RL to have told reporters that he ruled out political motivations in the case. “Nobody has been charged. We are only talking about clearing up some circumstances.”
“Unfortunately, when the state tries to carry out some actions to clarify phenomena hidden behind one or another piece of information people immediately allege a political subtext,” Sargsyan told reporters, according to RFE/RL.