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Government's refusal to provide data on suspicious ZCMC deal is baseless and illegal, lawyer says

20-01-2022, 15:36 Armenia » Public
Government's refusal to provide data on suspicious ZCMC deal is baseless and illegal, lawyer says

20 January 2022, 15:36 - NovostiNK
The Armenian Government has refused to provide the copy of donation agreement for transferring 15% of the shares of the Zangezur Copper Molybdenum Combine (ZCMC) to the trust management of the government-affiliated fund requested by Civilnet news outlet. Lawyer Elina Gyurjyan commented to Pastinfo the government decision, naming it baseless and illegal.

The Armenian government keeps secret the details of the suspicious deal on the sale of the ZCMC shares, refusing to publish the contract and the price of the deal.

CivilNet applied to the Armenian government in October-November of the previous year, asking it to provide a copy of the relevant donation agreement.The government rejected the request. Later, the representatives of CivilNet and Transparency International filed a lawsuit in the Administrative Court, asking the court to oblige the government to provide the copy.

Elina Gyurjyan notes that the Office of the Prime Minister rejected the request, reasoning that it contained “confidential information” and was thus a trade secret. However, some of the key provisions of the agreement have already been published in the respective decision of the government.

In the lawyer's words, labeling any information as “trade secret” requires simultaneous existence of three conditions set by the law, yet the content of the agreement lacks those conditions since most of its parts are available to the public.

"The respondent should justify what type of information the agreement contains which is not subject to disclosure. Considering the importance of this matter, we think that the the content of the agreement should be disclosed in its entirety," the lawyer said.

To remind, Russia’s former Minister of Health and Social Development Mikhail Zurabov, who owns 12.5% of the Combine's shares, filed a lawsuit to a court in Syunik in August this year, asking for a preference to acquire the ZCMC shares. The court not only agreed to hear the lawsuit but also applied a measure, seizing 75% of the shares of the Zangezur Copper Molybdenum Combine.

Later on September 30, the Syunik Court of General Jurisdiction ruled to lift the seizure of shares, and a subsidiary belonging to Russian billionaire Roman Trotsenko, owner of the GeoProMining group, acquired them immediately after it. After the deal, Trotsenko granted 15 percent of the shares of the Molybdenum Combine to the Government of Armenia.

The representatives of Mikhail Zurabov appealed the ruling at the Civil Court of Appeals, demanding the annulment of the court ruling on lifting the measure.

The representatives of the plaintiff declared that since the beginning of the court hearing on the measure, the plaintiff was deprived of independent and impartial judicial proceedings, pointing also to the haste on the part of the Court in taking the case into proceeding and the ruling.



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