US government seeks to seize mega-mansion linked to former Armenian official Gagik Khachatryan

գագիկ խաչատրյանի տունը ամն-ում

By Mark Dovich

The U.S. federal government is “seeking the forfeiture of a more than 33,000-sqaure-foot mega-mansion” in Los Angeles believed to have been purchased with bribes paid to former Armenian official Gagik Khachatryan, the Department of Justice announced in a press release Thursday.

The mansion, which is located in the upscale Holmby Hills neighborhood and was recently listed for sale at $63.5 million, was purchased in 2011 by a trust on behalf of Khachatryan and his family for $14.4 million with bribes paid by Armenian businessman Sedrak Arustamyan, the U.S. government alleges.

In total, Arustamyan paid the Khachatryan family more than $20 million “in exchange for favorable tax treatment of his business,” according to the Justice Department. Khachatryan headed Armenia’s State Revenue Committee from 2008 to 2014, after which he spent two years as the country’s finance minister. The 11-bedroom, 26-bathroom mansion in Los Angeles was allegedly purchased during Khachatryan’s time leading the State Revenue Committee.

Arustamyan served as the director of Multi Group Concern, an Armenian company with links to Gagik Tsarukyan, one of the country’s most well-known oligarchs.

Khachatryan, several of his relatives, and Arustamyan have all faced criminal charges in Armenia for receiving or paying bribes. In 2020, the elder Khachatryan was released for health reasons after being arrested on charges of large-scale embezzlement and abuse of power. He is believed to be in Armenia.

According to the Justice Department press release, the investigation was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Marshals Service, with “critical assistance” from Armenia’s Prosecutor General’s Office and National Security Service.

The forfeiture is being sought under the Justice Department’s Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative, which works to recover the proceeds of foreign official corruption by seizing assets in the United States or connected with the U.S. financial system