Politicial Bribes

US to seize $63m Los Angeles mansion it says was bought with corruption money | California

The US government wants to seize a mega-mansion in an exclusive Los Angeles neighborhood it says was bought with millions in kickbacks linked to Armenia’s former finance minister and his sons.

The estate, located near the former Playboy mansion, has been renovated in a French Norman style and has 11 bedrooms and 26 full or partial bathrooms, and includes a swimming pool, wine cellar, home cinema and guest rooms. good, according to real estate advertisements.

It hit the market last month with an asking price of $63.5 million, according to the federal lawsuit filed this week by the US Department of Justice.

The lawsuit says the US government is seeking forfeiture of the 33,652-square-foot (3,126-square-meter) mansion, located in Holmby Hills, because it was allegedly purchased illegally with bribes paid by an Armenian businessman to Gagik Khachatryan, a former senior officer. Armenian politician.

According to the complaint, the house was purchased for $14.4 million in 2011 by a trust in the name of Khachatryan and his two sons, who all face criminal charges in Armenia.

It was not immediately clear if they had attorneys in the United States who could speak on their behalf on the forfeiture request. No attorney for them was listed in the complaint.

The case is under investigation by the FBI.

Khachatryan, who was known as the “super minister” due to his many responsibilities, served as chairman of Armenia’s state revenue committee from 2008 to 2014 and finance minister from 2014 to 2016.

The US government alleges that wealthy and influential businessman Sedrak Arustamyan, who is also indicted in Armenia, paid Khachatryan and his family more than $20 million in bribes in return for treatment favorable tax treatment of his businesses, and that part of this money was used to buy the Holmby Hills Estate.

The property went on sale in April and was described by a real estate agency as “a truly unique opportunity”, with “immaculate architecture, manicured landscaping and your chance to fully customize the interiors”, according to the Los Angeles Times. .

The listing agent behind the property is said to be still looking for a buyer.

“The FBI told me I could keep showing,” Richard Maslan of Hilton & Hyland told The Times.

The Associated Press contributed reporting