Where did Armenian diaspora's money go?
Another scandal flared up in Armenia around the Hayastan All-Armenian Fund, which donated over 52 billion drams collected during the second Karabakh war to the Armenian government. The point is that a significant part of these donations was transferred to the state budget, and it is not known for what purpose. In this regard, the President of Armenia, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Fund Armen Sargsyan called for an international audit of the expenditure of the Fund's resources. But it is not yet clear what expenses were made through donations and how they were legalized in official documents.
"Hayastan", founded in 1992, positioned itself as the only organization that seeks to create a pan-Armenian network for the development of Armenia and Armenians around the world, to implement projects that ensure the proportional and sustainable development of Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh. The foundation works with the support of organizations operating in 19 countries.
The geography of benefactors is quite wide. Among the Russians, Ara Abrahamyan, Samvel Karapetyan, Seyran Karapetyan, Sergei Ambartsumyan, Armen Shahazizyan, Gennady Stepanyan were noted there.
Among the Americans are Kirk Kerkorian, Andranik Baghdasaryan, Albert Boyajian, Gerard Cafesjian, Douglas Jackson, Gerald and Patricia Turpanjian, as well as the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church.
Among the French are Yeznik Mozyan and Richard Hovhannisyan. Among the British are Vache Manukyan and Karapet Nazaryan.
Among the Argentines are Eduardo Eurnekian, Armen and Nadia Ekzerchyan. Also on the list of benefactors are Albert Poghosyan from Switzerland, Jean Poghosyan from Belgium, Robert Poghosyan from Lebanon, Henrik and Adrine Ter-Ghukasyan from Iran, Varuzhan Burmanyan from Brazil, Tigran Izmirlian from Switzerland, Sarkis Hakobyan from the UAE.
Samvel Aleksanyan, Barseg Beglaryan, the Armenian Apostolic Church and personally the Catholicos of All Armenians Garegin contributed to the fund from Armenia itself.
The scandal that has erupted over donations sent to the Armenian government for an unknown purpose is not the first. For example, in the summer of 2018, the director of "Hayastan" Ara Vardanyan admitted that, using a bank card with a credit line of 25 million drams (about $ 51.8 thousand) provided to the fund, he spent these funds for personal purposes, including making bets in various online casinos.
Earlier, in the fall of 2014, on the eve of the next fundraising telethon in Los Angeles, a protest rally took place, the participants of which demanded that the Armenian authorities collect taxes from oligarchs, and not donations. According to them, the amount of unpaid taxes exceeds that which is collected through donations. At the time, Ambik Sarafyan, a member of the central board of the Hnchak Social Democratic Party, said that every year the diaspora's disappointment increases and the enthusiasm with which donations is made decreases. An important role here is played by the lack of trust in the Armenian leadership, the internal political situation, the difficult social situation of the population, the atmosphere of impunity and injustice prevailing in Armenia, which is expressed in the dominance of monopolies, the enormous influence of the oligarchs, and most importantly, in the complete indifference of the authorities.
The still ongoing fundraising marathon has raised $ 170,672,188 at the time of this writing. The Foundation's website says: "All donations received are intended solely for humanitarian purposes and will be distributed in accordance with the mission and charter of the Foundation."
Actually, the current scandal is caused by the fact that the fund cannot spend money to cover the military deficit or the deficit of the state budget of Armenia, especially taking into account the fact that the Armenian budget is a "cauldron" where there is no target value for the transferred amounts. Consequently, these amounts could be spent for any purpose, including salaries and bonuses; and some experts believe that even to finance terrorists and mercenaries, recalling how the Armenian terrorist organization ASALA received funds from the Armenian community abroad.