Armenian Government OKs 1 Bn Drams Contract to Man On Trial for Defrauding Government

For the second time in the span of just a few months, the Armenian government has granted public service contracts worth billions of drams to a man presently on trial for defrauding that same government of millions.

Embezzlement IllustrationArmenia approved a 5.9 billion drams contract to a company owned by Hakob Stepanyan, who is on trial for defrauding the government of hundreds of millions in 2019. (Photo: Credit Debit PRO, Flickr, License)The Armenian Ministry of Territorial Administration and Infrastructure has awarded Hakob Stepanyan’s company, Regionstroyservice LLC, a one billion dram (US$2.5 million) contract. This comes despite the fact that Stepanyan is currently on trial for embezzling 256 million drams ($640,000) from the ministry’s coffers in 2019, Hetq reported.

Regionstroyservice LLC provides public services such as painting road markings, installing street signs, and traffic light maintenance.

This marks the second time this year that Stepanyan’s  company has won lucrative city upkeep contracts, despite his current legal troubles.

In June of 2023, he made headlines for securing ministry contracts with the cities of Yerevan and Masis worth 938 million drams ($2.3 million).

He is accused of misconduct as the former director of another company, Ukrinvest LLC, where authorities say he used his station to commit fraud and embezzle 256 million drams from the government.

Back in 2018, Ukrinvest secured three traffic light installation contracts worth 1.59 billion drams ($3.9 million), across multiple municipalities, despite the fact that the company only had one employee on its payroll at the time.

Preliminary investigations into that case ended in 2021, when the Special Investigative Service, Armenia’s anti-corruption agency, subsequently recommended to federal prosecutors that an indictment be opened against Stepanyan and his co-defendants.

Investigators said in 2020 that, while the government has since recovered the money in question, Stepanyan may not leave the country until the court proceedings against him are resolved.