YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — The owner of Armenia’s largest food exporting company accused of tax evasion warned through his lawyer of “severe consequences” for the domestic economy after the Court of Appeals refused to release him from custody on Tuesday, April 30.
The businessman, Davit Ghazarian, was arrested three weeks ago after the State Revenue Committee (SRC) charged that his Spayka company evaded over 7 billion drams ($14.4 million) in taxes in 2015 and early 2016.
The accusations stem from large quantities of foodstuffs which were imported to Armenia by another company, Greenproduct. The SRC says that Greenproduct is controlled by Spayka and that the latter rigged its customs documents to pay lower taxes from those imports.
Ghazaryan has strongly denied any ownership links to Greenproduct. He said on April 5 that the SRC moved to arrest him after he refused to pay the alleged back taxes.
The Court of Appeals upheld a lower court’s April 8 decision to allow investigators to hold Ghazaryan in pre-trial detention. It also rejected a separate petition to free him on bail.
The tycoon’s lawyer, Arsen Sardaryan, denounced the ruling as baseless. He claimed by that keeping his client in custody the authorities want to “extort” large amounts of money from Spayka.