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Armenia’s former Defence Minister arrested, charged with embezzlement 

30 September 2021
Davit Tonoyan. Official photo.

Davit Tonoyan, the former Minister of Defence of Armenia, was arrested for abuse of power and embezzling a large amount of money from the Ministry. The alleged accomplice in the scheme was Davit Galstyan, an advisor to Tonoyan.

According to Armenia’s National Security Service, Tonoyan and Galstyan embezzled about $ 4.7 million from the Ministry of Defence between 2018 and 2020. Tonoyan's arrest was confirmed by the NSS on 29 September. 

Local media report that the NSS also searched the houses of Tonoyan and other high-ranking MOD officials and summoned the Deputy Head of the General Staff of the Armenian Armed Forces to their offices. 

Nicknamed ‘Patron Davo’ (Bullet Davo), Tonoyan’s alleged accomplice, Davit Galstyan owns several companies that have supplied the Armenian Ministry of Defence with weapons and ammunition. The alleged embezzlement concerns the 2018 sale of artillery shells, supposedly produced in 1983–1986, to the Armenian military. 

According to the NSS, Galstyan used ‘deception’ and the ‘hiding the technical-tactical characteristics’ to instead deliver shells produced in 1977. These shells then allegedly failed to perform during the war. 

Galstyan was appointed as an advisor to Tonoyan in 2019 and charged with defrauding the Defence Ministry in February 2021.  Tonoyan led the Defence Ministry from 2018 to 2020 and was sacked after the Second Nagorno-Karabakh war. 

[Read more: Former adviser charged with defrauding Armenian Defence Ministry

In 2019, an investigation by CivilNet revealed that Davit Galstyan’s name appeared in United Nations Security Council documents regarding arms deliveries to Libya that broke an international arms embargo.

Post-war charges

On 28 September 28, the General Prosecutor’s Office of Armenia reported that roughly 2000 criminal cases have been initiated after the war and are related to ‘crimes committed in the armed forces of the Republic of  Armenia and Republic of Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh)’. 

The Prosecutor’s office stated that based on the ‘combination of sufficient evidence’ obtained during preliminary investigations more than 800 people were involved as defendants, including high-ranking officers of the Armed Forces.

Most of the roughly 50 cases that have made it to court are related to the ‘illegal acquisition, circulation and sale of weapons, ammunition, and explosives’. Eight people have been charged for ‘embezzlement or attempted fraud’.

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