Unconfirmed report suggests former Armenian envoy to China is indicted in U.S. multi-million dollar money laundering case
YEREVAN, MAY 25, ARMENPRESS. An Armenian citizen is charged for his alleged role in a bribery scandal at an Ohio-based Rolls Royce subsidiary, the US Justice Department said.
Azat Martirossian, 62, and Vitaly Leskov, 50, a Russian citizen, face one count of conspiracy to launder money and 10 counts of money laundering. According to the US Justice Department, the Armenian citizen is a former Ambassador of Armenia to China.
This information has yet to be confirmed. A diplomat named Azat Martirossian indeed served as Armenia’s envoy to China in the late 90s, but it is yet unclear if this case relates to the same person. The official statement on the indictment of the Justice Department failed to provide detailed information other than referring to Martirossian as “former ambassador of Armenia”, without mentioning years of service, designated country etc.
The charges are a superseding indictment filed in the Southern District of Ohio.
Petros Contoguris, 70, a citizen of Greece, was also charged on these counts, as well as one count of conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), and seven counts of violating the FCPA. Contoguris previously had been charged on all of these counts in an indictment that was filed on Oct. 12, 2017.
Martirossian and Leskov are employees of an international engineering consulting firm.
They are suspected in participating in a scheme to launder bribe payments to foreign government officials for the benefit of a Columbus, Ohio-based subsidiary of Rolls-Royce plc, to secure a contract to supply equipment and services to power a gas pipeline from Kazakhstan to China.
According to the superseding indictment, Contoguris, the founder and chief executive officer of Gravitas & CIE. International Ltd. (Gravitas), former Rolls-Royce employees and executives, and others, allegedly conspired to pay bribes to foreign officials in exchange for directing business to Rolls-Royce Energy Systems Inc. (RRESI). RRESI was a U.S.-based subsidiary of Rolls-Royce plc, the United Kingdom-based global manufacturer and distributor of power systems for the aerospace, defense, marine and energy sectors.
The superseding indictment alleges that Contoguris, working with employees of an international engineering consulting firm (Technical Advisor), including Martirossian and Leshkov, devised and executed a scheme with Rolls-Royce executives and employees, whereby Rolls-Royce would pay kickbacks to the Technical Advisor employees and bribes to at least one foreign official in Kazakhstan, and disguise these payments as commissions to Contoguris’s company, Gravitas, in exchange for helping Rolls-Royce win contracts with Asia Gas Pipeline LLP (AGP).
According to the superseding indictment, AGP was created to build and connect a gas pipeline between Central Asia and China, and the Technical Advisor purported to provide independent engineering consulting advice and other services to AGP. The superseding indictment further alleges that after AGP awarded Rolls-Royce a contract in November 2009, worth approximately $145 million, Rolls-Royce made commission payments to Gravitas, and Contoguris then passed a portion of those commission payments onto the Technical Advisor employees, including Leshkov and Martirossian, knowing that a portion of that money would be shared with a foreign official consistent with their corrupt agreement.
ENGLISH: Editor/Translator - Stepan Kocharyan