Former head of the Cadastre Committee Sarhat Petrosyan announced on his Facebook page on October 18 that he was resigning, saying he could no longer tolerate “dilettantism and clanship level reaching corruption.”
On November 5, Petrosyan clarified his statement on Radio Liberty,- “The former chairman of the Urban Development Committee, presently Tigran Avinyan’s adviser (Avetik Eloyan-ed.), who has never worked in Armenia, now owns the largest design organization in Armenia and coordinates huge investment projects, and his company is directly involved in all these processes. … It is a conflict of interest proven by facts.” Petrosyan also said that it was about the tallest building in Armenia.
The Fact Investigation Platform decided to follow up on Sarat Petrosyan’s statement to find out if it was true.
Who is Avetik Eloyan?
Avetik Eloyan was appointed chairman of the Urban Development Committee after the Velvet Revolution in 2018. Prior to that, he had lived in the United States for many years. Studying Eloyan’s official biography, it becomes clear that he returned to Yerevan after graduating from the State Research and Design Institute for Urban Development of the City of Moscow in 2000 and did his PhD in Architectural Science. From 2001-2002 he worked as an architect at “Poghosyan Hrach Architectural Studio.”
In 2002, Eloyan left for the United States, where he lived until 2018. In June 2018, Eloyan was appointed Chairman of the Urban Development Committee, but in January 2019 he was dismissed from the post by the decision of Prime Minister. In February, Eloyan was appointed adviser to Deputy Prime Minister Tigran Avinyan.
According to the official biography on the Government’s website and “Eloyan Architects” website, Avetik Eloyan and his company do not have any buildings designed in Armenia. The site only presents one project implemented in Yerevan – interior design of an apartment, but no information on when it was implemented is mentioned.
Skyscraper in Yerevan
In August 2019, a 71-storey skyscraper project was announced to be built near Dalma Gardens in Yerevan. Representatives of the Contractor “Laura Investment Company” had a meeting with Minister of Economy Tigran Khachatryan on those days.
However, the news was not accepted invariantly. Head of Information and Public Relations Department of Yerevan Municipality Hovsep Kubatyan, in particular, stated that “no official application was submitted to the Municipality and no permits or other documents were provided by the Municipality.”
Eloyan said in an interview on those days that the design was going to be carried out by Eloyan Architects. According to Eloyan, the initial idea of a $ 250 million investment project belongs to him, but now he has “little to do” with the work, and Eloyan Architects was being managed by his brother who is also an architect.
“The work started long ago, about two years ago, in the fall of 2017, but now I’m not involved in the work, he (his brother-ed.) follows up on that concept,” Eloyan said. According to the website of the Ministry of Economy, the desing og the complex will last about two years and the construction will take five years.
According to the official website, Eloyan Architects was founded in 2012 by Eloyan brothers. It is noteworthy that the homepage of the company website states that after the appointment of Avetik Eloyan as Chairman of the Urban Development Committee, Eloyan Architects no longer accepts new architectural design orders in Armenia to avoid potential conflicts of interest.
Thus, Sarhat Petrosyan’s statement that Vice Prime Minister Tigran Avinyan’s adviser’s company is directly involved in a major investment project in Armenia is true.
Is there a conflict of interest?
Sarhat Petrosyan considers this a “conflict of interest proven by facts.” The Law on Public Service defines a “conflict of interest” as “as taking an action or adopting a decision (in exercising his or her liabilities) that can reasonably be interpreted as being led by his or her personal interests or the personal interests of his or her related persons.”
According to Article 31 of the same law, the Ethics Committee of Senior Officials clarifies the situation of potential conflict of interest only on the basis of a request from a senior official.
Speaking to the Fact Investigation Platform, Armen Khudaverdyan, Acting Chairman of the Committee, mentioned that both Sarhat Petrosyan and Avetik Eloyan can apply to the Committee to clarify whether there is a conflict of interest in this situation. However, Khudaverdyan noted that the given situation cannot be interpreted with the current laws and standards. Khudaverdyan urged to wait until the Corruption Prevention Commission is created and the new laws that contain a new definition on conflict of interest enters into force.