An appeal to Davit Sanasaryan for investigating the role of Armen Sarkissian in the Amulsar project
The Armenian Environmental Front civic initiative has sent a letter to Davit Sanasaryan, Head of the State Control Chamber of Armenia. The full text of this letter-appeal is presented below.
Armen Sarkissian’s intervention in the governmental decision-making with regard to Lydian’s mining project
In March 2013, Lydian International, the 100% shareholder of Geoteam company (later renamed to Lydian Armenia), announced that Armen Sarkissian was appointed a member of its Board of Directors. At that time Armen Sarkissian was residing in the UK, he was the former Ambassador of Armenia in the UK. With regard to his membership to the Board of this private company Sarkissian himself mentioned: “I am happy to join the experienced Board of Directors of the company and to contribute to the development of the company’s main project – the Amulsar gold project. I am convinced that Amulsar will be a first-class project which will be managed in the framework of the best international experience. The project will bring benefits to Armenia and will ensure substantial investments, as well as substantial and transparent incomes for both, its shareholders and the state.” In 2013, while Sarkissian was a member of Lydian’s Board of Directors, he invited Prince Charles of the UK to Armenia; thus he created a big publicity about his own person and his connections to the British Royal family at a period when he was doing private business.
Later, Armen Sarkissian had been proudly speaking about “bringing” Lydian to Armenia. Then, in September 2013, Sarkissian left the Board of Directors of Lydian International and was appointed the Ambassador of Armenia in the UK.
Sarkissian’s comments regarding his membership in Lydian International’s Board of Directors and his connections with Amulsar cause serious doubts that he was directly involved in drawing the Republic of Armenia into corrupt deals.
In January 2018, in his interview to Shant TV, Sarkissian mentions: “My relations with Lydian were very simple. If there is any company in London, Paris, Europe or anywhere else in the world which is interested to invest in Armenia, I have always been ready and now, too, I am ready to meet them and consult them. …Two people have introduced me to Lydian – Ambassador Karine Ghazinyan and Joseph Oughourlian, a shareholder of Lydian. The latter has Armenian origins and is one of those persons whom I brought back to his Armenian roots, because although he was Armenian he had no idea… I can happily state that today he has built a small hydroelectric power plant in Artsakh (Karabagh) and his company is a shareholder of Lydian. He introduced it to me and asked to advise how Lydian should work in Armenia. He also suggested that I become a member of the advisory body… I mean the Board of Directors is carrying out only advisory functions; there are 8 members and I was one of those 8 members. I have been a member of this Board for only 3 months. During this period, unfortunately, I have not participated in the Board meetings, but I have carried out research, met the President of the Board, given my written opinion to them, and then I left the Board. After this I have not had any contact with them.”
Later, from May 2018 onwards, Sarkissian mentioned in various public speeches that back in 2013 there have been problems between Lydian and the Government of Armenia, and that he was involved “in order to regulate the relations between Lydian and the Government of Armenia” (Sarkissian’s response to the request/letter of the Armenian Environmental Front, June 15, 2018). On May 23, 2018 when Sarkissian met a civic group called “Amulsar will not become a mine”, he made a similar statement and also clarified that “… in that period there was a tension between Amulsar mine and the Government which could grow into a large trial process.”
And then again, on July 3, 2018, during a forum held at Ani Hotel, Yerevan, he clearly stated: “One of my reasons for being there was very clear; at that time, 5-6 years ago, there was a big tension between Amulsar and the Government. If we bring back the journalistic memories, we’ll see that even different embassies were involved. The issue was that they had problems concerning receiving or not receiving the permissions, because at that time, when they were doing the geological activities, there were talks that they might sue the Government, etc. I have been a Board member, I have not participated in the meetings but I have had the opportunity to read all the documents, I have got acquainted with them, and about 3,5 months later I left the Board. Full stop. For ethical reasons I cannot tell what letters and what opinions I have submitted to them. After that I have had no connection with that company. Full stop.”
We would like to remind, that in 2013, Lydian International’s Amulsar gold-mining project was facing serious problems. Moreover, the State Committee for Preservation of Lake Sevan, a number of academic and environmental bodies had given negative conclusions regarding this mining project as it was situated in the water-collecting basin of Lake Sevan, and its Waste Rock Facility was to be placed at the Amulsar water-divide. After 2013, the Government’s stance radically changed – they gave permissions through seriously violating the Armenian legislation, and even through enforcing anti-constitutional decisions. At the end of May 2018, a number of NGOs and civic initiative groups once again presented to the Government a document regarding everything mentioned above and even more legal issues.
Armen Sarkissian refers to corporate ethics and refuses providing further details. However, hiding this information is a violation of ethics of a public official – something which is a higher priority than corporate ethics.
Taking into consideration all the above mentioned, we request you to conduct a special investigation in order to find out:
- What “problems did Sarkissian solve” for Lydian International in 2013?
- What consequences did his interventions have for the people and the state of Armenia? and
- Did the violations of laws with regard to Amulsar gold project start with Armen Sarkissian’s “regulation of relations between the Government of Armenia and Lydian”?
Armenian Environmental Front civic initiative