US Seizes LA Mega-Mansion from Former Armenian Minister

Published: 10 July 2024

Gagik-Khachatryan-Armenia-MinisterGagik Khachatryan, pictured here in 2014. (Photo: 517design, Wikimedia, License)

By Henry Pope

The U.S. Justice Department seized a Los Angeles mega-mansion from the family of a former Armenian government official, who authorities said purchased the property with tens of millions of dollars in bribery payments.

Authorities settled the civil forfeiture of the 30,000-square-foot mansion, owned by the sons of Gagik Khachatryan, 68, who was once Armenia’s senior tax and customs official and held the informal title of “Super Minister,” due to his wealth.

Justice department officials said that the property was purchased in 2011 using funds from a trust that listed Khachatryan’s sons as the beneficiaries. While the sons claimed innocence behind the funds’ origins, investigators argued that it was all an elaborate ruse to launder US$20 million in bribery payments by Sedrak Arustamyan, an Armenian businessman.

District Court attorneys allege that Arustamyan offered the money in exchange for favorable tax treatment for his businesses.

The mega-mansion is located within L.A.’s Platinum Triangle, an informal name for the city’s three-most affluent neighborhoods, each of which are comprised of multi-million dollar homes.

Prosecutors first pursued the property’s forfeiture in May 2022, when it was listed for sale at $63.5 million, more than three times the amount Khachatryan allegedly accepted in bribes. Proceedings, however, stalled for two years before a resolution could be met.

“We do not tolerate corruption in the United States and we will not allow foreign officials to use our country to facilitate their own corruption,” said United States Attorney Martin Estrada. “Our recovery of these ill-gotten gains should send a message to corrupt officials throughout the world that they will find no safe harbor here.”

The U.S. government plans to sell the mega-mansion to the highest bidder and will retain 85 percent of the sale’s net proceeds. The remaining 15 percent will be distributed amongst Khachatryan’s sons.

This story was corrected to clarify that the masion belonged to the sons of Gagik Khachatryan, Armenia’s former senior tax and customs official who held the informal title of “Super Minister,” due to his wealth. A previous version claimed the mansion belonged to him personally and that his Super Minister title came from his high-ranking position in the government.