Armenian religious leaders have large sums in Swiss banks

Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin II contained more than 1 million US dollars in 2006-2007

Baku. 15 February. REPORT.AZ/ International Consortium for Investigative Journalism (ICIJ) has published a list of Armenian customers who had accounts in the Swiss bank HSBC, Report informs citing the Armenian media.

According to “Swiss Leaks” findings, there were 10 clients associated with Armenia (4 had an Armenian passport/nationality) who opened 21 client accounts between 1989 and 2006 that were linked to 23 bank accounts. The maximum amount of money associated with a client connected to Armenia was $5.8M.

17 of the 21 client accounts were opened by private individuals, 2 by offshore companies and two were “numbered” accounts. The ICIJ states that these ten clients held a total of $15.4 million in the bank between 2006 and 2007.

HSBC internal files first listed Karekin II among its clients in 2000. He was connected to an account named “His Holiness Karekin II Nersis” that listed one bank account and held as much as $1,074,926 in 2006/2007.

The leaked files do not specify the exact role that Karekin II had in relation to the account.

In response to an ICIJ query, the Mother See at Etchmiadzin claimed that the account in question was opened by His Holiness Karekin II's predecessor "for the benefit of the Church and its charities, and that the account was transferred to His Holiness Karekin II Nersissian upon the death of his predecessor to be used for the same purposes.

One more person, Radik Martirosyan, opened a client account in the bank on December 4, 1997 when serving as rector of Yerevan State University (1993-2006). From 2006-2007 Martirosyan had $14,684 in the Swiss bank. Of interest is the fact that the bank account was a joint account. The joint owner was Archbishop Shahe Ajemian (Ajamian in ICIJ documents, 1926-2005). In the ICIJ documents he’s listed as a bishop of the Armenian Apostolic Church (Jerusalem). Two other individuals are linked to the numbered account – Silvia Adjamian (registered as residing in Cliffside Park, NJ) and Diana Dikranohi Mkhitarian. The ten bank accounts linked to “3304SA” held a total of $3,960,278 in 2006-2007. According to ICIJ documents, Ovik Nalbandyan also had $1,162,620 in the Swiss HSBC bank from 2006 to 2007.

Every year Bedoian organizes a trip to Armenia for students at the École Franco-Arménienne Tebrotzassere and École Saint Mesrob in France to participate in April 24 Genocide commemorations. In 2011, Armenia Minister of Diasporan Affairs Hranoush Hakobyan bestowed Bedoian with the “Boghos Noubar” medal. In 2014, Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan awarded Bedoian the Movses Khorenatsi medal for his contribution in strengthening Armenia-Diaspora relations and preserving Armenian identity.

This data has been obtained from a former employee of HSBC Swiss bank Herve Falchiani, who gave these figures to the French tax authorities, which in turn began an investigation into hiding hundreds of millions of dollars of taxes. Further documents were obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalism (ICIJ) through the French newspaper Le Monde.

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