Government Service Pays Off: The Millionaire “Marzpets” of Armenia
Reviewing the financial disclosure statements of Armenia’s marzpets (provincial governor) one gets the impression that they all live solely on their government salaries. But all of them drive fancy cars, own lots of property, and have their hands in a various businesses.
Hetq has looked at their statements. It appears that Karapet Guloyan, a newly appointed marzpet and the youngest in the bunch, is the richest of the ten.
Karapet Guloyan (Kotayk) - Youngest Billionaire Marzpet
Serving as the Mayor of Abovyan in Kotayk, Karapet Guloyan was appointed the marzpet of the province in April of this year. He’s the son of MP Murat Guloyan and the son-in-law of MP Gagik Tsarukyan.
As of December 31, 2014, Karapet Guloyan declared cash holdings of 1.4 billion AMD (US$2.9 million) and $94,000. His annual salary as Abovyan mayor was $5,413 annually.
The financial statement he filed upon taking office in April shows 1.3 billion AMD and $81,500. He also declared a private house and an apartment in a residential building.
The wives of Karapet Guloyan and Artashat Mayor Argam Abrahamyan (son of Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamyan) are sisters. The two families are jointly involved in a number of businesses.
Surik Xachatryan (Syunik) – Making Millions from Billions in Loans
Xachatryan began his political career as the mayor of Goris in 1996. Three years later he became a member of parliament and was reelected in 2003. He was appointed marzpet in 2004 and served until 2013. After a one year interruption (when he resigned), Xachatryan was reappointed in 2014.
His last financial disclosure shows 215 million AMD ($447,655) in annual revenue. Only 1.6 million AMD is from wages. More than 16 million is from property rentals. Some 200 million is from interest on loans he made totaling 1.5 billion.
Xachatryan’s finances, according to his filings, have been up and down. In 2011, he declared a mere 2.4 million in wages as revenue. In 2012, he obtained 4 billion in stock and sold 7 billion. For 2012, he declared 2.5 billion AMD ($5.2 million) and $1 million in cash.
In September 2014, upon being reappointed Syunik marzpet, Xachatryan declared 148 million AMD in interest income on loans totaling 1.6 billion. Another 12 million AMD in revenue came from property rentals.
Sargis Sahakyan (Aragatzotn) – Funneling Government Contracts to His Brother
Sargis Sahakyan has been serving as the Aragatzotn marzpet since 2009. Over the years, he’s been able to direct millions in government contracts to companies owned by his brother Nairi Sahakyan.
Marzpet Sahakyan claims that his brother is a responsible person and that he’s signed a number government contracts with his brother’s companies (Yes yev Na Ltd) because the work will be satisfactorily completed.
Sargis Sahakyan’s financial disclosures only show salary as revenue. In 2011, he declared 250,000 AMD in the bank and a salary of 2.5 million. A year later, he had 400,000 in the bank and annual revenues of 3 million (all salary).
In 2013, Sahakyan declared no cash in the bank and revenues of 2.5 million (salary). For 2014, he again declared no cash deposits but his salary rose to 4.8 million annually.
From 2011 to 2014, the finances of his wife Melineh Genjoyan remained the same – no cash, and a salary of 528,000 AMD.
Rubik Abrahamyan (Ararat) – Sons Get $Thousands in Gifts
Abrahamyan, a former Deputy Chairman of State Water Management Committee, was appointed marzpet of Ararat in May 2014.
Upon taking office, he declared revenues of 2 million AMD (all salary). He declared 7.6 million AMD, $33,000, and 15,000 Euros in the bank.
For 2014, his wife Naira Nersisyan declared $25,000 in “other income” and bank deposits of 15 million AMD, $21,000, and 16,000 Euros.
Gor Abrahamyan, one of the marzpet’s sons, declared $11,000 in gifts for 2014. Emin, another son, declared a 10 million AMD ($21,000) ‘gift’ as his only revenue that same year.
As marzpet, Abrahamyan signed a number of large government contracts with “Sisian Buat” LLC, a company owned by Armenian Parliament Vice President Hermineh Naghdalyan.
Ashot Kahramanyan (Armavir) – Several Homes on Salary Alone
Kahramanyan, marzpet since 2008, has no businesses in his name, but owns several homes in Yerevan and Armavir Province. He also owns a summer home in the town of Kapan.
He’s channeled several large government projects to a company called “Milaks Group”, owned by the family of his friend Misak Ter-Poghosyan. The projects are mostly carried out in Armavir. In and around Etchmiadzin, the projects are implemented by Ara and Aytzemnik Ltd., owned by MP Manvel Grigoryan, who holds the rank of Lieutenant General (retired).
In 2011, he declared 15.6 million AMD in the bank and revenues of 4.4 million (1.7 million in pension and the rest salary). In 2012, he declared 16.7 million AMD in the bank and the same 4.4 million in revenue. In 2013, his cash holding increased to 18.3 million while his salary of 3.6 million was his only revenue. For 2014, he declared 21.3 million in cash and revenues of 5.6 million (all salary).
Rafik Grigoryan (Gegharkounik) – Financially Better Off as MP
Grigoryan was serving as a member of parliament when appointed marzpet in June 2012.
According to his financial disclosures, he was doing better in the parliament. For 2011 he declared 7 million AMD in revenue (4 million from the sale of property and the rest in salary). He had no cash deposits.
For 2012, he again declared no cash deposits and his sole revenue was in the form of 5.7 million in salary. (But in June of 2012, when he assumed the office of marzpet, he declared a loan of 7 million.)
For 2013, Grigoryan declared revenue of 2.8 million (all salary). For 2014, he declared his 6.6 million in salary as his only revenue.
Artur Nalbandyan (Lori) – Husband and Wife with Deep Pockets
Nalbandyan, was serving as the mayor of Alaverdi, when appointed marzpet in July 2011.
For 2011, he declared 52.7 million AMD and $80,000 in revenue. His salary amounted to 2.718 million. The remainder was declared in the form of gifts. Nalbandyan declared 53 million AMD and $82,000 in the bank.
For 2012 he declared 5.7 million AMD in revenue (2.8 million in interest from loans and the rest in salary). He declared $208,350 in the bank. The following year he declared 8.7 million AMD in revenue and $220,781 in the bank.
For 2014, Nalbandyan declared revenue of 10.3 million (5 million in loan interest and the rest in salary). He declared $229,862 and 1.2 million AMD in the bank.
Harutyun Sargsyan (Vayots Dzor) – Survives on Salary Alone
Sargsyan, a former mayor of Vayk, was appointed marzpet in November 2014.
When he took office, Sargsyan declared three properties and a private house. His salary as mayor was 2 million AMD.
Feliks Tsolakyan (Shirak) – Financial Situation Improves After Appointment
A long-time government official, Tsolakyan was serving as the deputy director of Armenia’s National Security Service (NSS) when appointed marzpet in March 2013.
Upon taking office, he declared 13.8 million AMD in cash deposits. (His salary amounted to 10.6 million annually as deputy director of the NSS. In his last financial disclosure (2014) his cash holdings had increased to 17 million (7.6 million in salary and pension)
Hovik Abovyan (Tavoush) – Family Purchases 3 Cars in One Year
Abovyan was serving as the head of the Gugark Regional Customs House when appointed marzpet in May 2014.
While his salary only amounted to 2.8 million, Abovyan declared 31.3 million AMD and $110,000 in cash deposits. He also purchased a $16,000 Toyota Land Cruiser the same year he became marzpet.
His wife Anna Azatyan also has deep pockets, declaring 101 million AMD and $400,000 in cash deposits. Surprisingly or not, Azatyan receives no salary from anywhere.
In 2014, Ashot Abovyan (the marzpet’s son) bought a $41,600 Mercedes Benz, and Anoush Abovyan (the marzpet’s daughter) bought a $31,200 Toyota RAV4.