Vice President of the National Assembly Alen Simonyan has been Member of Parliament since May 2018. On 15 June 2018, he submitted a property, income and related person’s declaration as of 16.05.2018 to the Ethics Committee of High-Ranking Officials. The data included in the declaration raise a number of questions.
Absence of his wife’s declaration
Among the related persons, the MP indicated his two young children and his wife, Mariam Margaryan.
However, the latter has not yet submitted a declaration to the Ethics Committee, which calls into question the integrity of the data presented in the MP’s property declaration.
It is noteworthy that Mariam Margaryan was supposed to submit a declaration till March 31 of this year due to the new position her husband holds (Alen Simonyan is Vice President of the National Assembly since 14 January 2019.
However, the deadline for submitting annual declarations was extended till May 31.
It is also worth noting that family members of other MPs have long submitted their annual declarations.
Note. Failing to submit a declaration is an administrative offense (Article 169.28 of the RA Code of Administrative Offenses). After two warnings, the case shall be sent to the Prosecutor General’s Office.
The false declaration
As of the date of assuming his post (16.05.2018), Alen Simonyan mentioned 2012 RANGE ROVER EVOQUE 2.0 passenger car in his property declaration. However, according to the letter received from the Road Police, he purchased the car on June 12, after assuming office.
It means that Alen Simonyan declared RANGE ROVER as of the date of assuming office. However, he obtained the 12 million AMD worth property (Alen Simonyan confirmed that he paid 25.000 USD for his car) during his office. In reality, as of the day of assuming his office, Alen Simonyan had a MITSUBISHI ASX. Thus, Alen Simonyan submitted obviously false data, which is an offense under Article 314.3 of the Criminal Code (presenting false data in declarations or concealing data subject to declaring).
If Alen Simonyan accidentally confused the days of assuming office and filing a statement, and the mistake was not intentional (this still has to be examined by the commission), the liability is administrative penalty.
Suspicions of illicit enrichment
Often, officials attempt to declare more expensive property so that they present it as “their former possessions” in the future (illegal enrichment is punishable if it took place during office).
Let us see to what extent this case is an example of illicit enrichment.
As of 16 May 2018, Alen Simonyan had 2 million AMD and 16.200 USD according to the declaration submitted to the Ethics Committee. As of 1 November 2018, the MP had 2.5 million AMD and 18.500 USD according to the declaration submitted to the Central Electoral Commission. That is, Alen Simonyan “got richer” by 3.300 USD during six months. During the same period, Mr. Simonyan received 2.7 million AMD ($ 5.600) salary as Member of Parliament.
If the information contained in the declaration is correct, Alen Simonyan spent a total of about 1.2 million AMD or 200,000 AMD a month during six months. However, the MP has a credit borrowed from the bank, which assumes additional monthly payments.
In other words, it becomes clear that Alen Simonyan did not purchase the RANGE ROVER with his personal savings or his salary. In fact, it was also confirmed by Alen Simonyan, who said, “The car was purchased in June last year with the money generated from the sale of his previous car [MITSUBISHI ASX 2.0L, manufactured in 2011] and the involvement of the loan amount borrowed from ArmEconomBank.
According to the statement from the Road Police, Alen Simonyan really sold his MITSUBISHI ASX 2.0L car (worth about 9-11 thousand USD) the day before purchasing the RANGE ROVER. That is to say, Alen Simonyan needed additional 15,000 USD to buy a RANGE ROVER EVOQUE 2.0 on June 12.
It is noteworthy that according to media reports, Alen Simonyan received his RANGE ROVER from the owner of “Vivaro” Vigen Badalyan for the well-known legislative initiative on bookmaker offices.
As can be seen from the candidate property and income declaration (reporting period 01.11.2017-01.11.2018) submitted to the CEC before early parliamentary elections in December 2018, Alen Simonyan received a bank credit worth 14 million AMD. However, the same credit can be also seen six months earlier in the declaration for assuming the MP post (16.05.2018). It means that Alen Simonyan did not acquire hi RANGE ROVER with the credit money. There is no logic in taking a credit, not using it for a few months and paying interest rates for the credit money not yet used.
Besides, according to the documents received from the State Committee of the Real Estate Cadastre, Alen Simonyan and Mariam Margaryan acquired an apartment with the involvement of credit funds from ArmEconomBank (a mortgage loan of 14 million AMD). The apartment cost about 21 million AMD. It should be mentioned that as of 1 April 2017, Alen Simonyan had 56.000 USD, and most probably that money was used to buy the apartment.
It is unclear from the declarations where 40.000 of Alen Simonyan’s 56.000 USD disappears. National Assembly Vice President’s financial means reduce to 16.200 USD during one year (in the period between 1 April 2017 to 16 May 2018). Part of the aforementioned amount was probably paid as 30% advance payment for the apartment (more than 7 million AMD), and the rest (about 25.000 USD) cannot be seen anywhere. It is worth noting here that the RANGE ROVER could not have been purchased with that amount since the car was acquired in June 2018, and on the day of assuming official duties the aforementioned amount was not there anymore.
In fact, either Alen Simonyan presented false information about his credit in his declarations, or the acquisition of the RANGE ROVER really constitutes illicit enrichment. According to Article 310.1 of the RA Criminal Code, illicit enrichment is a crime if the unjustified increase of property exceeds the 5 million AMD threshold. In Simonyan’s case, it is 7 million AMD (the difference between the price of RANGE ROVER and the selling price of MITSUBISHI), of course if we deal with illicit enrichment here.