Although failure by officials to submit declarations is subject to criminal liability, its application is practically impossible because of a bug in the law.
According to Article 32 of the RA Law on Public Service, high-ranking officials are obliged to submit property and income declarations to the Commission on Ethics of High-Ranking Officials.
The Commission on Ethics of High-Ranking Officials sent six cases to the Prosecutor General’s Office in connection with the willful failure of the officials to submit declarations in 2018-2019, and none of the officials was held accountable.
These officials are former Mayor of Echmiadzin Karen Grigoryan, former investigator of the Second Garrison Investigation Department of the Investigative Committee’s Military Investigative Department Jivan Narimanyan, former senior investigator of the most important cases of the Internal Security Department of the Investigative Committee Arestakes Yeremyan, former head of the Ararat Customs Service Department of the State Revenue Committee Babken Ghazaryan, and former chief military inspector Mikael Harutyunyan.
According to Article 314.2 of the RA Criminal Code, willful failure to submit a declaration to the Commission on Ethics, and according to Article 169.26 of the RA Code on Administrative Proceedings, “willful failure to submit it within 30 days after application of established administrative penalty shall be punished with a fine in the amount of 1500-fold to 2000-fold of the minimum salary, or with imprisonment for the term of up to 2 years, or with deprivation of the right to hold certain posts or practice certain activities for the term of up to 3 years or without it.”
But there is a legislative gap here. Article 169.26 of the Code on Administrative Offences does not have any relevance to submitting or not submitting declarations. It refers to failure of non-governmental organizations to submit reports. And the Criminal Code should make a reference to Article 169.28 of the Code on Administrative Offences, which refers to failure to submit declarations.
“That is, the norm stipulated by the Criminal Code does not comply with the principle of legal certainty. There is a legislative gap” Head of Commission on Ethics of High-Ranking Officials Armen Khudaverdyan says.
And because of this legislative gap, Arestakes Yeremyan, Karen Grigoryan (son of Manvel Grigoryan) and Babken Ghazaryan, who did not submit declarations deliberately, were not subjected to criminal liability.
The Commission on Ethics of High-Ranking Officials informed Fip.am that amendments are envisaged in the problematic article in the Criminal Code that will come into force in 20 July 2019 (In Article 314.2, words “Article 169.26” will be replaced by the words “Article 169.28”). In fact, as a result of a technical error, officials could fail to submit declarations for years and avoid persecution.