Davit Ghazaryan

Armenian Businessman Freed From Custody

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YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — The official owner of Armenia’s largest food exporting company accused of tax evasion has been released from custody after paying the government 1 billion drams ($2.1 million).

In a weekend statement, the State Revenue Committee (SRC) said a prosecutor decided to set Davit Ghazaryan free because there are no longer “grounds” for holding him in detention and because he has made the hefty payment “within the framework of the criminal case.” The statement did not give further details.

One of Ghazaryan’s lawyers, Arsen Sardaryan, said the businessman was released on Friday, May 3, just three days after Armenia’s Court of Appeals refused to grant him bail.

Ghazaryan’s Spayka company reposted the SRC statement on its Facebook page but did not officially comment on the development as of Monday evening.

Ghazaryan was arrested one month ago after the SRC charged that Spayka had evaded more than 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 fewer 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.

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Spayka is Armenia’s leading producer and exporter of agricultural products grown at its own greenhouses or purchased from farmers in about 80 communities across the country. The company employing about 2,000 people also owns hundreds of heavy trucks transporting those fruits and vegetables abroad and Russia in particular.

 

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