Monday, October 18, 2004

Once again, I may have killed someone. I’m not sure how old Ura was (his oldest son is 23), but on the eve of trial, he had a heart attack and died.

Last year, my account came to an agreement without my prior approval to delay the payment of our pension fund contributions for our employees at the stone factory, until we had an income, since all I was doing I was paying out of my pocket and had not yet seen any kind of income.

When I learned of this deal a few months later, I asked my accountant if it was legal to do this and added that I really didn't have a problem paying out $54 more a month if it was not.

My accountant assured me that everything was on the up and up, being that she had the approval from Henrik, the head of the pension fund in Martuni and his assistant Ura.

The stone factory because of technical problems in one of our main cutting machines, didn't see a profit until recently and in that time never was there mention of the pension fund debt, of which I didn't even think about since that is the job of my accountant to deal with.

This summer, I got a call from Henrik at the pension fund, telling me that we were being audited by the main office in Stepanagert and in an hour someone would be coming to inspect our books. I called my accountant to inform her that she would have visitors from the pension fund and to allow them to inspect the books.

I later got a call from my accountant telling she had good new and bad news. The good news is that since she had paid all the employees other taxes (income and so on), and that our books did reflect that we did owe the pension fund. They understood that we did not intentionally conceal what we had to pay, so no criminal charge would be filed against me. The bad news was we have been fined for not paying into the pension fund for our employees at the stone factory in the amount 50% of the amount owed.

I asked my accountant how this happened and she reminded me if the deal she had struck with Henrik and Ura, but said that when they struck that deal, they neglected to tell her that she was not to pay any taxes now and when we had our profit, to report everything at that time and pay all the taxes. Of course if that was what the deal was suppose to be, I would have never agreed to it. When the pension fund and the tax office compared figures, they didn't balance and for that reason we were audited.

My accountant asked me what we should do? I told her that due to the deal that Henrik and Ura agreed to, advising us that it was legitimate, now my name has a black mark on it for not paying into the pension fund and though the few hundred dollars I would have to pay as a fine was not a big deal to me, my good reputation was on the line for playing within the rules of the law (which is something I'm known for demanding from everyone) was not something I would jeopardize. For this reason, she should inform the pension fund that we are disputing their finding and if they can’t reverse their decision, they should take us to court were I will attempt to defend my reputation.

My accountant and I met with the people at the pension fund on July 5th, who said that it was out of their hands and if we had anything complaining to do, we need to see the head of the pension fund in Stepanagert.

My accountant and I took a trip to Stepanagert and visited with the head of the pension fund (I can’t remember his name right now), who I explained what had happened. He told me that if in fact what I said is true, he would have to fire those that misadvised us, as what they allegedly did was criminal, but said that he does not believe they would admit to anything. I told him he should not be so sure, as they had already told me they had done just what I was telling him a few days earlier.

A few weeks ago, I ran into the Martuni judge while visiting the mayor, who informed me that I was being sued by the pension fund and I needed to come by the court to pick up and sign for the papers. With the judge, we drove to the court house, were I received the papers and set a trial date for the 18th (today).

To prepare for the trial, I consulted with my soon to be mother-in-law, who is the Deputy Minister of Justice in Artsakh, as to my defense and to make sure what I planned to do was legal?

My plan was to present my case, and to have my accountant recall what had happened in terms of the original deal with Henrik and Ura. I would then question Ura and one other person from the pension fund who my accountant and I met with on July 5th, concentrating on his statement to us agreeing that he had said it was okay not to pay now, but adding that he had never thought to have to tell my accountant that she needed to conceal everything in terms of paying taxes until we were ready to pay. Of course I felt that there was a good chance that Ura would deny he had ever said this, to which according to Artsakh law and in criminal cases (which what Ura and Henrik did was criminal), I could present into evidence a recording I made on July 5th of the meeting that reflects in Ura’s own words that he said what I've stated above.

One other thing that should be noted is that the other person from the pension fund who was present at that meeting said in an attempt to comfort me is that what I did was not that bad because we paid income tax, adding that if we had concealed the income tax and been caught, then I would have been facing criminal charges. Ura in the recording and what I’ve stated above suggests that he was expecting me to conceal everything, which like the other man present at the meeting stated is criminal.

This morning I woke up and readied for trial. I put my secret weapon in my pocket (the recording) and headed to court. On the way I told my driver what the case was about and the strategy I will use. My driver asked if I was talking about Ura, the guy whose wife is the head of the Martuni region finance office? I said yes. He told me that during the night, Ura had a heart attack and died.

I was a little taken back by this and on the one hand I thought that if it was going to happen, it’s better that it happened before the trial, as if I had to use the recording to prove that he had misled the court and presented false testimony under oath, he could have had his heart attack in court and then everyone in Martuni would have been talking about how I killed Ura.

The court date has been postponed until the 21st. I now have to once again consult with my future mother-in-law about if we can use this recording as Ura’s testimony since he is no longer alive to be present? The Martuni judge told me today when I asked if it was possible that I can’t because I have to have a basis and reason to present it. I told him the man that could present evidence of my innocence is dead and all we have left is a recording of him. Let’s see what the mother-in-law who happens to be the top legal expert in Artsakh will have to say about this?

And you may be asking yourself why the first line in my log I state “Once again…”? Well it seems that those people who do bad things to me and have one gram of respect for me, always have heart problems that could have resulted due to me defending what is right. In the states, I had a business dispute and in the course of defending my rights and winning a large settlement, one of the witnesses we were deposing I caught in a lie (in depositions by law, my attorney does the questioning, but I'm allowed to him post-it notes with questions to ask) and when she could not answer the question without incriminating herself and saw where they questioning was leading, she started to have heart palpitation and had to rushed to an emergency room, later being hospitalized for a 6 days. During that same case, one of my attorneys committed an act of malpractice, to which I sued him in pro per (meaning I didn't use an attorney and represented myself), and while doing so, he had a heart attack and decided to settle the case out of court soon there after in my favor and I heard later on at the young age of 50, gave up practicing law. In the case of the late Mesrop Srpazan, while investigating Kocharian’s controller and preparing an article with our findings, Edik Baghdarasyan of HETQ contacted Mesrop Srpazan’s office in NY to arrange for an interview when Srpazan returned to Armenia, to which Srpazan knew he was to give an interview based on the recording I had made in 1999 and probably just a matter of bad timing, he had a heart attack and died.

Tomorrow they will be laying Ura’s rest and though he put my reputation on the line, as a person he was not a bad guy. For that reason, since I knew him, I will attend and pay my respects to his wife and children at his funeral.

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