Armenia's Used As Launderette for Dirty Money

    • Business - 03 September 2017, 00:27
The published information about investments in the first half of this year indicates the lack of a favorable investment climate in Armenia and investments are made by people who have direct protection from the government or are representatives of the government, the economist Vahagn Khachatryan told Lragir.am. According to him, the picture of investments is worrying, and it turns out that the government’s vows of 800 million or 600 million dollar investments are just lip service. According to the National Statistics Service, in the first half of this year the volume of net flow of foreign investments in the real sector (excluding those received through government and banks) was 24,813,900,000 drams, including 17,267,700,000 drams of direct investments. Investors continue to export more money from the country than they bring. This has a negative impact on the direct investments. Compared with the same period of the previous year, in the first half of this year direct investments have shrunk by 1,188,300,300 drams, the negative flow of investments is up by 9,773,000,000 drams.

Vahagn Khachatryan pays attention to the fact that in the first half of this year the biggest investment in Armenia was 31,638,600,000 drams from the offshore island of Jersey.

“It is the most famous offshore, it is the world’s most famous launderette. This means that even if interstate agreements are signed and so on, investments come from the offshore, again money with suspicious past, the property of suspicious people. The question occurs what has happened to the relations of our country to different countries,” the economist says.

According to him, these amounts are evidence that nothing has been done this year, what they were speaking about has not come true. Moreover, what we have today has nothing to do with the activities of today’s government. These are the investments which have been made or had to be made in the past. This continues down the stream.

According to the economist, when we go down into the published statistics, there are big dangers. “There is already serious trouble with the outflow of capital, this is already worrying. The funds flowing to Armenia were not big enough, and now the outflow is gaining momentum. When we look at remittances, we can see a tendency lasting for a year. It is true that the flow of money has increased in July of this year compared with last July, the outflow has also amounted to a high level,” Vahagn Khachatryan said. According to him, remittances are not only about individuals. It is true that they do it, it is acceptable to say they transfer amounts to their families but in essence this money is not only for meeting individual needs. There are cases when these amounts are for production and business by individuals. “And we can see that the outflow is also high. This can be described as escape of capital from Armenia,” he says.

In answer to the question what is happening, where capital is flowing, the expert says that this question needs a serious study. Leaving aside the fact that individuals are taking away their money, it is also dangerous that people no longer have hopes regarding their country’s future, they are selling their property here, transferring the amounts and leaving. The second option, according to him, is that when people start a business in Armenia, these amounts simply get out of Armenia through direct transfers.

“When we look at investments from Russia, we will see that no money comes from there, [money] goes from here. This means that even Russian capital lacks confidence, they just come here, invest some money and take away the generated income. The third option is about dirty money which may come here, get cleared and leave. They use Armenia as a launderette. In other words, a study is needed,” he said.

The expert also said he believes that since the government has promised 800 million dollars for this year, they will try to draw numbers, even artificial investments will be shown.

“But eventually this has to leave somewhere. They may say that 800 million has been invested, but some 800 million will immediately leave through somewhere,” he said.