On January 12, by the decree of the Prime Minister, Grigor Minasyan was appointed Deputy Minister of Justice. This appointment became a hot topic of discussion on the Internet and in the media, as the latter is the brother of former Armenian Ambassador to the Vatican Mikayel Minasyan, a former Republican, and, according to media reports, the friend of Minister of Justice Karen Andreasyan.
However, in addition to being the minister’s friend, the deputy minister also had partnership relations with him in a number of private companies.
Grigor Minasyan is a member of the Chamber of Advocates, co-founder of AM and Lex Partners law firms, as well as Yard and Armenia PPP.
“AM Law Firm” LLC was established in 2012. According to the State Register of Legal Entities, 60% of the company’s shares belong to Grigor Minasyan. He has also been the director of the company since 2013.
The remaining 40% of “AM Law Firm” belongs to Eva Arakelyan. The latter is Karen Andreasyan’s wife, which means that in the “Declaration of Interests” section of the declaration submitted by Karen Andreasyan, his wife’s participation in the trade organization should have been mentioned, but that line was not filled in.
Grigor Minasyan also owned the “Yard” company, which is engaged in restaurant business. Prior to that, from September 25, 2017 to May 29, 2019, this company belonged to the current Minister of Justice Karen Andreasyan. In other words, Andreasyan and Minasyan successively owned 100% of Yard’s shares.
Grigor Minasyan had a share in “Lex Partners” company until April 26, 2011, after which he transferred the share to his wife, Maria Stepanyan.
Until 2011, Karen Andreasyan had a share in another company, Prof Tax, which belonged to Maria Stepanyan. In the same period, 2010-2011, Grigor Minasyan also had a small share in the company.
It turns out that in addition to friendly relations, Deputy Minister Grigor Minasyan also had business relations with Minister Karen Andreasyan. Together with the minister’s wife, he owns one of the largest law firms in Armenia, which is often advertised on Public Television.
“AM Law Firm” on Public Television
The Public Television has been broadcasting the “One Window” program since September 2018, which involves lawyers advising citizens on various legal topics. Our observation of the program archive shows that the lawyers of “AM Law Firm” are mostly invited to the program. In addition, in all cases where representatives of AM Law Firm are invited, the name of this private company is mentioned in addition to the name of the representatives, while in a few other programs hosting lawyers of another law firms, the name of the company is not mentioned. It turns out that the Public Television advertises “AM Law Firm” on its air, without informing the viewer about it.
The spokesperson of the TV company told the Fact Investigation Platform that there is no contract or memorandum with “AM Law Firm”. The lawyers of the company simply provide free legal advice, and in return Public Television displays the name of the firm.
Edits in the biography
After Grigor Minasyan’s appointment, the official website of the Ministry of Justice published his biography. In 2013, after working with Karen Andreasyan in the Human Rights Defender’s Office, Minasyan was elected a member of the Yerevan Council of Elders. However, the website of the Ministry of Justice does not mention that he was elected a member of the Council of Elders by the list of the Republican Party of Armenia.
For comparison, it should be noted that the biographical data of the people who were elected members of the Yerevan Council of Elders by the “Yelq” or “My Step” party alliances and now hold other positions indicate which alliance they were elected to. Examples are Zaruhi Batoyan’s biography on the official website of the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs or Arayik Harutyunyan’s biography on the government website. In both cases, it is mentioned that they were elected members of the Council of Elders as part of the “Yelq” alliance.