YEREVAN, April 9. /ARKA/. The personnel of Armenia’s leading freight and agribusiness company Spayka, who were protesting today outside the government building against the arrest of the company’s head and owner David Ghazaryan, demanded that Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan provided guarantees that Ghazaryan be set free.
Last week Armenia’s State Revenue Committee (SRC) accused Spayka company of evading over 7 billion drams ($14.4 million) in import taxes and asked a court in Yerevan to allow Ghazaryan’s pre-trial arrest. Ghazaryan denied the accusations when speaking at a news conference before the court hearings last Friday. Ghazaryan argued that the 5.5 billion drams of the alleged amount of evaded taxes are VAT that must be returned to the company in accordance with the legislation. Today the court allowed his arrest for two months.
“We demand that Pashinyan provide a personal guarantee that Ghazaryan will be set free. We do not trust anyone and ask him to personally provide a guarantee for recognizing Ghazaryan’s arrest invalid. We do not demand intervention and pressure on the court, but simply ask for mediation that any official can do,” said Karen Baghdasaryan, head of Spayka projects.
According to Baghdasaryan, David Ghazaryan has invested $150 million in Armenia and intends to invest another $100 million, which he said is a guarantee that Ghazaryan does not intend to flee the country and is ready to continue the business.
He said the company does not shy away from paying taxes, demanding only an audit and a double-check of the reliability of the alleged tax evasion claims.
An assistant to Prime Minister, Nairi Sargsyan, told the protesters that Pashinyan had repeatedly declared that he is not going to intervene with criminal cases.
“The prime minister cannot intervene in criminal cases, which he has repeatedly stated and this case cannot be an exception,” said Sargsyan. Later the protesters were told that Pashinyan would not intervene in the case.
“This is Pashinyan’s desire, and if he made such a decision, he has his own reasons for it. We respect the premier’s decision, even if it doesn’t suit us. The main thing is that we presented our problems, we finish the protest action and we return to work so that to ensure the stable operation of the company.
On March 26, Spayka commissioned a $15 million worth cheese factory. The opening ceremony was attended by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan.
Spayka was founded in 2001. It is Armenia’s leading exporter of fruits, vegetables and some prepared foodstuffs. The company has more than 1,200 people on its payrolls.