Saturday, January 10, 2009

Armenian Appeals Court upholds Igityan fraud conviction; Najarians celebrate long-awaited victory

YEREVAN, Armenia (TerryPress News) Dec. 29, 2008 – In a landmark decision following more than five years of legal maneuvering and delays, the Armenian Court of Appeal has upheld a ruling in favor of an Armenian-American couple who were victims of a multi-million dollar swindle.

“We are thrilled, as you can imagine,” said philanthropist George Najarian who, along with his wife, Dr. Carolann Najarian, had been cheated out of real estate in Yerevan now worth an estimated $3 million. “It will take time for the reality of this verdict to sink in and become part of our new reality.”

The Dec. 24 appellate decision is now final. Convicted Armenian con artist Grigor Igityan is to be imprisoned for 4½ years. He is ordered to return all properties taken from the Najarians. Igityan was free on his own recognizance and is now at large.

“We have to say a word of thanks first to our attorneys, Ashot Boghossian and Hrayr Goughashyan, who never gave up hope,” said Dr. Najarian. “Even when their lives were threatened, their careers were threatened, these two young men were steadfast in their belief that justice would be served.”

This case dates back to 1996 when, at the urging of Igityan, the Najarians purchased a photo shop on Abovian Street in central Yerevan.

Over the next two years, the Najarians invested in the development of other property in Yerevan for residential and commercial use, including offices for their non-profit medical aid organization, the Armenian Health Alliance. The two agreed that the Americans would provide the money and that Igityan would do the work.

In 2001, Igityan, illegally privatized all of the Najarian properties in his own name. After two years of attempting to resolve the situation out of court, the Najarians filed a criminal suit against Igityan with the Yerevan City Prosecutor’s office.

The case was repeatedly dismissed and re-instated amid suspicions of powerful, behind-the-scenes pressures. On Sept. 13, 2008, the Court of First Intention found Igityan guilty on all counts of theft and fraud against the Najarians.

Igityan was a translator who had attached himself as an assistant to George Najarian following the Spitak earthquake. The American couple are very involved in humanitarian activities throughout Armenia.

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