Armenia’s Special Investigative Service (SIS) is refusing to provide Hetq a copy of its decision to drop a criminal investigation into the offshore business interests of Mihran Poghosyan, a former head of the country’s Compulsory Enforcement Service.
Hetq asked that the SIS forward a copy of the decision as well as copies of the applications the SIS sent to Switzerland and Panama requesting legal assistance in the Poghosyan matter.
The SIS, quoting Article 262, Part 1, of Armenia’s Criminal Procedure Code, says that copies of a decision to drop or halt criminal proceedings is sent to the suspect, the accused, the defense lawyer, the injured party or their representative, the civil plaintiff/defendant, or their representative.
According to the law, a copy is also sent to an individual or legal entity upon whose statement the criminal investigation was launched in the first place.
The SIS goes on to argue that Hetq cannot be provided a copy of the decision since the news outlet is none of the above.
We should note that the criminal investigation was launched based on the research done by Hetq into the Panama Papers and Poghosyan’s links to offshore businesses.
Moreover, in the past, Hetq has been sent copies of decisions to drop criminal proceedings that were launched based on Hetq articles.
Hetq wrote about the Poghosyan’s (Armenia’s former Chief Compulsory Officer) shady financial dealings in Panama and his Swiss banks accounts in April 2016, after data was uncovered in the Panama Papers. The data was obtained by the German newspaper SüddeutscheZeitung and shared by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) with the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) and more than 110 media partners from 82countries, including Hetq.
On January 11, 2017, Armenia’s SIS said that it had received a notice from Switzerland’s Federal Department of Justice and Police, saying that it couldn’t offer legal assistance in the offshore business case of Mihran Poghosyan.
On January 25, 2017, the SIS announced that it had dropped the investigation of Poghosyan after Swiss and Panamanian authorities refused to help the probe into Panama Papers revelations.
However, the Swiss Federal Department of Justice told the Organized Crime and Corruption Project (OCCRP) in an email that they turned down the Armenian request for legal assistance on November 8, 2016 because the requirements of the request were not properly fulfilled.