YEREVAN (Asbarez)—Armenia’s National Security Service (NSS) on Tuesday placed Ara Vardanyan, the director of “Hayastan” All Armenian Fund (Armenia Fund, for short) under arrest on charges of embezzlement and misuse of funds. The NSS said that Vardanyan has confessed to misappropriating the organization’s funds, including using Armenia Fund money for online gambling.
According to the NSS, Vardanyan, who was detained on Monday, has admitted using a Hayastan Fund credit card with a limit of 20 million drams (approximately $41,500) for online gambling. He then used donated funds to replenish the credit card account. According to his own testimony, Vardanyan has then made a personal cash infusion into the funds accounts to cover up the missing money.
According to the NSS, during the last week alone, Vardanyan used nearly 14 million drams ($29,000) from the Hayastan Fund credit card for online gambling. From 2016 to 2018 Vardanyan has reportedly misappropriated approximately 130 million drams (around $270,000) for personal use.
The Armenia Fund, Inc, a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt, non-governmental, non-political corporation, was established in 1994 in Los Angeles, California. It has long been the object of criticism from across Armenia and the Diaspora for the large amounts of money it generates in donations and the relative lack of transparency in exactly how these large sums are allocated in Armenia.
Asbarez spoke to officials at Armenia Fund Inc., the Hayastan Fund’s Western Region branch, whose officials said the Fund will issue a statement regarding the latest developments and Vardanyan’s arrest in the coming hours. Follow Asbarez for the latest developments on this story. The NSS is continuing its investigation while Vardanyan has been remanded into custody.