Deputy Prime Minister Tigran Avinyan left for Canada and the United States on a working visit in July, 2018 where he had several meetings with the Armenian business community and, according to official reports, a total of USD 30.5 million investment agreements were reached as a result of the visits.
Some of these investment companies have already started operating in Armenia, but there is no open source information on the others. Fact Investigation Platform tried to find out how far these investments are.
Crystal Lake Holdings LLC
According to an official statement, the Business Armenia Foundation, created by the Government for investment attraction, and Crystal Lake Holdings LLC signed a memorandum of understanding that pledged $10 million to build a hotel complex on Lake Sevan.
Fip.am sent an inquirey to the Government and the Ministry of Economy about the current stage of this project. And this is probably the only investment project that the answers from Tigran Avinyan’s office and the Ministry of Economy did not contradict.
We were informed by Tigran Avinyan’s office that the construction of a new hotel complex on the shore of Lake Sevan by Crystal Lake is under construction.
The Ministry of Economy specified a little more. The project comprises 125-rooms, 200 guesthouses, a business center, shops and catering facilities. According to the ministry’s response, the investment project is about $ 15 million. The project is currently in the design phase.
Another investment project with no available data in open sources is Cascade. It is, according to a government release, a $ 5.5 million joint venture with representatives of Cascade Gardens Shant Ghazaryan (Toronto), Raffi Doudaklian (Armenia), Andre Gumushjian (Brussels) and Sahak Arslanian (New York). Construction design in the Cascade area is envisaged to start in March next year.
We were told by the government that Cascade Gardens project is in progress, the complete package of architectural designs is developed.
According to the State Register, Cascade Gardens company was registered in Armenia in June 14, 2018, that is, 1.5 months before Tigran Avinyan’s visit to Canada.
We also contacted Cascade Gardens project representative Raffi Doudaklian who informed us that they planned to build a residential complex.
“The design phase is over. We are currently in the process of expanding the land and acquiring additional land, and after its completion the project will be submitted for approval. The estimated cost of the project is about $ 10 million, ”- Doudaklian said, adding that construction of the residential complex is expected to begin by the end of autumn. According to Doudaklian, the residential complex will be located next to Charles Aznavour’s house-museum. “We have at least a 4-5-month delay, and we will finish in 2-2.5 years after construction begins,” he said.
According to the businessman, the project was initiated before the visit of the Vice Prime Minister to Canada but was voiced during that visit.
Eco Panel Group Inc.
According to a government release, “Eco Panel Group Inc.” company, represented by CEO Khachik Khachikyan, has expressed a desire to invest $ 10 million to set up an EPG panel manufacturing plant. Its technology is patented in 50 states around the world.
In response to our inquiry, Tigran Avinyan’s office replied that the investment project by Eco Panel Group Inc. has not been implemented yet.
However, we received a contradicting response from the Ministry of Economy.
We were informed that Khachik Khachikyan, head of the company, had moved to Armenia in October-November 2018 and founded “Apricot” LLC together with Mushegh Avetisyan, which will begin production of 3D thermal insulation panels in November this year. According to the Ministry, about $ 5 million has already been invested, and another 10 million are expected to be invested in the next 3-5 years.
We managed to contact the businessmen and take pictures of the area of the plant to be built.
Khachik Khachikyan informed that about $ 4-4.5 million has already been invested, and it is planned to invest another $ 5-6 million in the establishment of the plant.
Construction and site improvements were being carried out during the shooting. Part of the production line was already in place, and another part was expected to be transferred to Armenia in the upcoming months. According to the businessman, the first production is planned to be launched in December-January.
By the way, businessman Khachik Khachikyan told us that he had reached the agreement on investments and plant construction with the Minister of Transport, Communication and IT Hakob Arshakyan and that Tigran Avinyan’s visit to the US had nothing to do with it.
The government’s statement also said that “within the framework of Vice Prime Minister Avinyan’s visit to Canada, the head of the Business Development Company, Honorary Representative of Business Armenia in Canada, businessman Van Lapoyan expressed readiness to invest $ 5 million in Armenia.”
Van (Varuzhan) Lapoyan is a Canadian-Armenian businessman, founder of VHL Developments Construction Company. The company is located in Toronto and is engaged in real estate sales.
We sent an inquiry to the Government asking them to clarify at what stage the above-mentioned investment project is, to which they replied: “The investment project by Van Lapoyan is ongoing.”
In response to the clarifying question on what the program was about, the government replied that the information was provided insofar as it was known to Tigran Avinyan’s office.
We also tried to contact Van Lapoyan and find out what the investment was about and how far it was, but our inquiries remained unanswered. However, the Ministry of Economy informed us that the implementation of the project is suspended.
Thus we can state that there is no cooperation with businessman Van Lapoyan yet despite the government’s announcements last year. Besides, the response from Avinyan’s office that the businessman’s plan is ongoing is untrue.