The Council of Europe has urged Armenia to develop an effective national policy to investigate and prosecute money laundering in the country, as its experts have identified significant weaknesses in this area.
The experts put forth significant weaknesses in the investigation and prosecution of money laundering in Armenia and have urged the authorities to take immediate action to ensure that law enforcement efforts are fully commensurate with the money laundering risks faced by the country.
Overall, however, Armenia has made adequate progress in establishing a sound legal framework, while the financial sector was found to be effective in the application of preventive measures, according to a report on Armenia from the Council of Europe’s Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism (MONEYVAL).
It said the mechanisms for detecting and preventing the financing of terrorism and proliferation were to a large extent effective, while fraud, tax evasion, contraband and embezzlement posed the highest threats in terms of money laundering.
The Council of Europe’s report, which analyzed the implementation by Armenia of international standards on money laundering and terrorist financing since the last evaluation in 2009, stated the banking and real estate sectors were the most vulnerable to money laundering within the Armenian economy.
Financial intelligence was reported to have been gathered “very effectively,” but law enforcement did not often make effective use of it to develop evidence, trace, seize and confiscate criminal proceeds from money laundering.
Report might be downloaded here: MONEYVAL(2015)34_5thR_MER_Armenia
The applicants case are the son (the first applicant), the daughter-in-law (the second applicant) and the wife (the third applicant) of Garegin Ghuyumchyan, now deceased. They were born in 1965, 1973 and 1947 respectively and live in Vanadzor, Armenia. This case concerned the applicant’s complaint that they had been deprived of access to court since they could not afford to hire an advocate. In the first case the late Garegin Ghuyumchyan and his wife Gyulnaz Ghuyumchyan ran a small family business. In July 2002 Garegin Ghuyumchyan was charged with bribe-taking. In September 2002 the charges were dismissed for lack of evidence, and in 2004 the family sold the business. In October 2004 Garegin Ghuyumchyan instituted proceedings seeking compensation for wrongful prosecution. The first and second applicants joined the proceedings. Garegin Ghuyumchyan was not represented during these proceedings. His claim was allowed in part. He appealed and ultimately the Court of Cassation refused to consider his appeal on points of law on the ground that it had not been lodged by an advocate licensed to act before it, as required by the domestic law.
Relying in particular on Article 6 § 1 (access to court) of the European Convention on Human Rights, the applicant complained that they had been denied access to the Court of Cassation as they could not afford the services of a licensed advocate.
Violation of Article 6 § 1 (access to court) – in respect of Vahan Ghuyumchyan (the son of Garegin Ghuyumchyan) Just satisfaction: 3,600 euros (EUR) each to Vahan Ghuyumchyan in respect of non-pecuniary damage.
On July 10, 2015 Tatevik Matinyan acting as a Venice Commission expert at the meeting of the Council of Europe and shared her expertise (holding a presentation and acting as a panelist) in strategic litigation for the benefit of a group of NGO representatives from Kyrgyzstan traveled to Strasbourg, France, for a seminar on the topic of Strategic Litigations between 8 and 11 July 2015, organised by the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe.
She presented the theory of planning and conducting strategic litigations supported by cases implemented by the experts of CSL. The presentation was followed by question/answer penal where Mrs. Matinyan also shared with the professional experience and advice on how to make strategic litigations a very effective tool for human rights organizations.
In accordance with the press release made by the Venice Commission representatives of NGOs, academia and journalists of the Kyrgyz Republic learned about the experience from several European countries on strategic litigation as well as about the Venice Commission’s practice of amicus curiae briefs. Strategic litigation is bringing carefully-selected public interest cases – often human rights cases – to a court on behalf of an individual, where the goal is to promote the interests of a wider group.
This seminar was a part of a study visit to the Council of Europe and the European Court of Human Rights, which enabled the participants to follow closely the work of the Venice Commission, the Parliamentary Assembly, judges and lawyers of the ECtHR and other parts of the Council of Europe.
These events were organised jointly with the UNDP office in Bishkek in the framework of the project “Support to the Kyrgyz authorities in improving the quality and efficiency of the Kyrgyz Constitutional justice system” with funding provided by the European Union.