Գլխավոր > Ara K. Manoogian's Activism > To Donate Or Not To Donate? (PART I)

To Donate Or Not To Donate? (PART I)

White Paper on “Hayastan” All-Armenian Fund

Part I

By Ara K. Manoogian

“To donate or not to donate?” That is the question millions of Armenians have been asking themselves on every Thanksgiving since 1992 before making a pledge to “Hayastan” All-Armenian Fund. Despite their willingness to lend a helping hand, numerous contributors tend to think twice before making a donation, due to multiple reports and evidence of corruption linked to the activities of the Fund. More and more people vow not to donate.

A few days before the 2010 telethon, Horizon TV aired an interview with Sarkis Kotanjian, Executive Director of “Hayastan” All-Armenian Fund U.S. Western Region, who referred to the reports of corruption as myths and tried to dispel them. Below, each of the myths is presented exactly as Mr. Kotanjian worded them, along with his interpretations, which are termed here as “busting.” The alternative interpretations of the core issues are presented as “Unbusting.”

MYTH #1: People are trying to politicize “Hayastan” All-Armenian Fund.

BUSTING: “Hayastan” All-Armenian Fund does not interfere with any issue. Even last year, when there were problems connected to the protocols, “Hayastan” All-Armenian Fund was the only, was among very few charitable organizations that said: “It doesn’t concern us. We are not within the political field, we do charity, let everyone mind their own business.”

UNBUSTING: It is praiseworthy that All-Armenian Fund stays away from politics, minding its own business. However, this strategy doesn’t prevent politics to pry into the Fund’s business. The question is not whether “Hayastan” All-Armenian Fund does not interfere with politics, but whether it would dare to do so, given the presence of heavy-weight state officials on its Board of Trustees.

This organization became politicized the moment Manushak Petrosyan, an old and loyal friend of Levon Ter-Petrosyan, was appointed the first Executive Director in 1992. As a result of the Fund’s growing subordination to the authorities, funding of projects by Diaspora Armenians became more and more dependent on the political decisions made by the country’s president.

The politicization of “Hayastan” All-Armenian fund became obvious when ARF boycotted the activities of the fund after the authorities began persecuting its party members in Armenia in 1997. It became especially obvious when Manushak Petrosyan’s resignation immediately followed that of Levon Ter-Petrosyan’s in 1998, amid scandals in the press about the riches she had amassed within 6 years in office, the luxurious villa she had managed to build, as well as about the ownership of the Pioneer Bar, Rio shoe store and villas by certain members of the fund administration.

Raffi Hovhannisian is, perhaps, the only former executive director who publicly admitted that the fund was a politicized structure. “Of course, there was a certain amount of politicization. By resigning, Manushak Petrosyan, the former executive director, fed all the existing doubts that the fund is indeed a politicized organization pleasing the authorities. It is that politicization that had a negative impact on our people’s perception of the fund both in Armenia, Artsakh and the Diaspora,” he said in an interview to Azg Daily in 1999. That same year Aravot Daily wrote: “In the past years, the Armenian Diaspora was donating money to Armenia through various funds. Most of the transactions were carried out through “Hayastan” All-Armenian Fund. Some funds try to stay as far away from politics as they can. But they don’t always succeed. A few years ago the Greek-Armenian community had raised $300,000 for donating to Armenia. The donation was being constantly postponed due to political reasons. Only in autumn of 1998 did the representatives visit the homeland and handed the bank note to Armenian President Robert Kocharyan.” Little did they know with whom they were entrusting their money.

According to the press release for the 18th session of the Board of Trustees on May 18, 2009, Serzh Sargsyan talked about the efforts directed at the normalization of Armenian-Turkish relations, as well as the situation around the settlement of the Artsakh conflict. “The discussion of political issues at a “Hayastan” All-Armenian Fund session is yet another innovation,” concludes Hraparak.

MYTH #2: On TV or internet we read… They talk about things that do not reflect the reality. For example, as though “Hayastan” All-Armenian Fund is a governmental fund and is ruled by the authorities of the Republic of Armenia.

BUSTING: It is not so. We are a public organization, charitable, non-government. Although state representatives of both Armenia and Karabakh are included in our Board of Trustees, I must emphasize that they are a minority. There are a total of 38 trustees, and only 13 of them represent the state. The voting is based on simple majority. That is to say, even if all the state representatives vote the same way, that decision will not pass. And this has been done with the purpose of making sure all the decisions are balanced. There are different kinds of decisions, like what the purpose of the fundraising is going to be, how the funds are going to be spent.

UNBUSTING: Those who say “Hayastan” All-Armenian Fund is a governmental fund don’t necessarily refer to the de jure status of the organization. They rather imply its subordination to the authorities of the Republic of Armenia.

The number of Government representatives, 13, is not accurate. Mr. Kotanjian must have omitted world-renowned singer Charles Aznavour who was appointed ambassador of Armenia to Switzerland on February 12, 2009. A couple of months later Serzh Sargsyan signed an order making Aznavour Armenia’s permanent delegate to the United Nations at Geneva. The ratio, thus far, is 14 vs. 24.

If balancing the decision-making has been the Fund’s intention, it hasn’t been achieved since 14 and 24 obviously aren’t equal. This numerical misbalance, on the other hand, indicates that the fund admits the existence of such a crucial factor as the voting power of the authorities. “Hayastan” All-Armenian Fund has, nevertheless, underestimated the true might of that voting power. All the presidents of the Board of Trustees—Levon Ter-Petrosyan, Robert Kocharyan and Serzh Sargsyan—have on numerous occasions proved to handle even tougher misbalances during the Armenian presidential elections from 1996 to 2008. In those tougher cases, the difference wasn’t a matter of merely ten votes, but rather tens of thousands, which were falsified in favor of each of them. In fact, the voting power of the state representatives in the Board of Trustees has been so tremendous that none of those 24 members—the overwhelming majority—has ever dared to publicly voice their concern over massive election fraud.

In 1999, 2000 and 2001, the Armenian press raised concerns over the fact that, among others, some of the most important members of the Board of Trustees—Charles Aznavour, Vatche Manoukian, Hrayr Hovnanian, Louise Simone Manoogian—chose not to participate in the 8th, 9th and 10th sessions of the Board of Trustees of “Hayastan” All-Armenian Fund. The official excuse was that they were busy. It looks like withdrawal has been their preferred method of expressing disapproval to the authorities.

A generic note about the annual session of the Fund published in Hayots Ashkharh Daily, May 8, 2001, indicates the impact of the country’s president on decision-making within the Fund: “In President Robert Kocharyan’s evaluation, “Hayastan” All-Armenian Fund in the year 2000 has worked within the framework of the decisions made by him, and the projects can generally be considered successful.”

When speaking about the balance of power, Mr. Kotanjian didn’t mention the existence of such a superstructure within the Board of Trustees, where the overwhelming majority are state figures. Below is a list of the members of the Presidium of the Board of Trustees (courtesy of Sarkis Kotanjian):

1. Serzh Sargsyan – President of the Republic of Armenia, President of the Board of Trustees of the Fund
2. Gagik Harutunyan – Head of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Armenia, Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees
3. Arkady Ghukasyan – Special envoy of the President of Armenia, Vice Chairman of the Board of Trustees
4. Hovik Abrahamyan – Speaker of the National Assembly of the Republic of Armenia
5. Tigran Sargsyan – Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia
6. Bako Sahakyan – President of Nagorno-Karabakh Republic
7. Edvard Nalbandian – Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Armenia
8. H.H. Garegin II – Catholicos of All Armenians
9. Hirair Hovnanian – Armenian Assembly of America
10. Petros Terzian – France
11. Albert Boyajian – USA
12. Samvel Karapetyan – Russia

The weight of the majority of the authorities in the presidium is strategically complemented with the presence of two Vice-Chairmen of the Board of Trustees. Both of them represent the Government—Gagik Harutiunyan, Head of the Constitutional Court (who used to be the close ally of Manushak Petrosyan, the notorious former Executive Director of the Fund) and Arkady Ghukasyan, former President of Artsakh, currently ambassador-at-large or special envoy of the Republic of Armenia. Arkady Ghukasyan became the second Vice-Chairman as a result of an amendment to the Fund’s charter, which introduced a new office within the Presidium of the Board of Trustees. According to that amendment, the only difference between the two offices of the Vice-Chairman is that one of them is ex officio (Gagik Harutiunyan).

That same day Louise Simone Manoogian gave up her membership in the Presidium of the Board of Trustees and received the title of Honorary Member of the Board of Trustees.

Technically she was replaced by Samvel Karapetyan, the multi-millionaire owner of Tashir group of companies in Russia, who is the brother of Karen Karapetyan, the head of Serzh Sargsyan’s Administration. Manoogian’s exit and Karapetyan’s admission into the Presidium of the Board of Trustees indicated that 7 officials vs. 5 non-officials is only the de jure picture. Samvel Karapetyan effectively altered the de facto ratio in favor of the authorities: 8 vs. 4.

According to Clause 45a of Chapter 5 (Governing Bodies of the Fund) of the Fund’s charter, the Presidium of the Board of Trustees appoints the Executive Director, Deputy Directors and presents them for final approval by the Board.

Here’s one more factor speaking volumes about the correlation of the Fund and the Government—“Hayastan” All-Armenian Fund is located at Government Building #3 Yerevan, Armenia 0010.

MYTH #3: There is another myth that the money raised by the Armenia All-Armenian Fund gets into the hands of the Government.

BUSTING: It is not so, it is a misunderstanding. “Hayastan” All-Armenian Fund has a few dozens of bank accounts that belong to “Hayastan” All-Armenian Fund. These dozens of bank accounts are located in different parts of the world. As you know, there are twenty local affiliates of “Hayastan” All-Armenian Fund in different countries of the world. Not a single dollar, a cent, a dram, a euro ever appears in the Governmental accounts (կառավարական հաշիվներ). It is controlled by “Hayastan” All-Armenian Fund, it is spent by “Hayastan” All-Armenian Fund, and the annual report is made available to the public in an edition such as this one (shows it), which includes all of our financial information—how the money was spent, how much there was and so on and so forth. This financial information, I should add, is checked, audited by Grant Thornton, which is a large international company and has its representation in Armenia.

UNBUSTING: It may be true that not a single dollar, a cent, a dram, a euro ever appears in the governmental accounts. However, the main concern among the donors is not the governmental accounts (which implies the budget), but rather the personal accounts of the Government officials. It is satisfactory that all the donations are kept in the numerous bank accounts of “Hayastan” All-Armenian Fund, but the question is where the money streams from there. There are numerous ways the authorities can channel the donations for their personal benefit. These are a few:

  1. Ordering the Executive Director to deposit certain amounts of donated money to bank accounts, which do not belong to the Fund.
  2. After Manushak Petrosyan left “Hayastan” All-Armenian Fund, Robert Kocharyan offered the position to Raffi Hovannisian, former Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Armenia, in 1998. Raffi accepted the offer at a time when the relations between the Diaspora and Armenia had cooled over the scandalous findings about former Executive Director Manushak Petrosyan’s wealth, as well as the power shift.

    The new Executive Director was unhappy with his predecessor’s work; he made some staffing changes and made sure to keep her away from the Fund and its projects. Aravot Daily published an article with a title “The Former Are Not Allowed” in 1998: “By the order of Executive Director Raffi Hovannisianr, no invitations had been sent to the former and those of the current employees who had worked with Manushak Petrosyan to attend the opening of a segment of the Goris-Lachin-Stepanakert road built by means of “Hayastan” All-Armenian Fund. Manushak Petrosyan hadn’t received an invitation either.”

    Some of the employees left the Fund on their own, unhappy with Raffi’s style of work and strategies. Among them, Tigran Paskevichyan, former head of the Public Relations Department, was quoted in 1998 by Aravot Daily as saying: “During a trip to Karabagh, Raffi Hovannisian had made such a statement in an interview to Karabagh TV: ‘We must create, save and improve the Fund.’ <…> After that I understood that I cannot participate in the creation of something which was created a long time ago, in saving something that doesn’t need to be saved, and I wasn’t seeing ways of improvement with Raffi Hovannisian.”

    Having served the Fund for as few as six months, Raffi Hovannisian quit in the fall of 1998. Three consecutive short-lived appointments—Foreign Minister 1991-1992, Head of the Department of Information and Publications (40 days in 1998), Executive Director of “Hayastan” All-Armenian Fund (6 months in 1998)—were a heavy blow on Raffi Hovannisian’s reputation as a leader among the Armenian population.

    Over a decade later, Raffi’s son, Garin Hovannisian, wrote in his recent book Family of Shadows something his father had preferred not to share with the curious journalists during his time in office and following his resignation. The excerpt below shows the simple mechanism of “indirect depositing,” at least when Raffi Hovannisian was the Executive Director of “Hayastan” All-Armenian Fund:

    His first problem was that, through the winter of Armenia’s political transformation, the diaspora’s confidence in the republic had frozen, and along with the confidence millions of dollars in the international bank accounts of the All-Armenian Fund. It was Raffi’s first goal and immediate success to effect a national defrosting and to schedule major fund-raisers in the diaspora. These fund-raisers had not yet taken place, however, when Soviet symptoms reappeared. This time the requests for wire transfers—$50,000 to this account, $100,000 to the other—were coming from the presidential office. This time there was no higher authority to which he could appeal.

    <…> Raffi began to fear that some sinister financial scandal was being planned for him. And still Armenouhi said: “Hang in there and work.”

    But now Raffi had changed. His response astounded Armenouhi. “Guzes kogheru hed ashkhadink?” he said. “Do you want us to work with thieves?” (Hovannisian, Garin, Family of Shadows, HarperCollins: New York, 2010, p. 198)

    This admirable honesty, however, doesn’t answer why this political figure had to hide these crucial details, especially when they obviously paint a bad picture of his political opponents.

    “Sure, I hope that you will see that stylistically the book reads more like fiction. However, trust me, I have done research as a journalist, as a historian, and everything in the book is a reality,” said Garin Hovannisian at his book signing event at Barnes & Nobel on September 21, 2010 in an interview to Horizon TV based in Los Angeles.

  3. Making sure construction contracts are signed with construction companies owned by officials or people close to them.
  4. On February 10, 2010, Zhamanak published an interesting article titled “The Worst Traditions Continue” about the construction companies that have traditionally been winning the tenders despite their bad performance in the past. Kristine Khanumyan, the author of the article, singles out Vrezh, Karavan and Chanshin construction companies. Vrezh belongs to Karen Hakobyan, the brother of oligarch Samvel Hakobyan, MP of the National Assembly of Artsakh; Karavan belongs to Hakob Hakobyan, Samvel Babayan’s former ally who has succeeded in gaining the trust of the incumbent authorities; Chanshin is owned by Roles Aghajanyan, another close friend of the Artsakh officials—this is as detailed as she gets about Aghajanyan.

    “These three people have been taking turns winning all the tenders announced for the construction of the North-South Highway, putting the asphalt, the quality of which had eventually upset even the MPs of Artsakh National Assembly,” Kristine writes. The issues with the quality of their work and other abuses will be covered in the sequel of this article. At this point, I’d like to jump to the alarm Kristine Khanumyan’s article sounds, which is, despite poor quality of work and numerous abuses, one of these companies, Karavan, once again won the tender for the repair works of Aram Manukyan and Garegin Nzhdeh Streets of Shushi, Artsakh, in December 2009.

    About a year and a half after her scandalous resignation, Manushak Petrosyan told Aravot Daily that after leaving “Hayastan” All-Armenian Fund, she made a decision to do construction. “With that purpose, together with a group of like-minded people, she established Spectrum, a company specializing in construction,” writes the newspaper and then quotes her as saying: “Today we have different projects in progress. We are doing construction work in the disaster zone—Gyumri, Stepanavan.”

    One of those construction projects—Children’s Art Center of Ani District in Gyumri—was granted to Spectrum, Ani and Kamas by none other than “Hayastan” All-Armenian Fund (see details here). Although the official website doesn’t provide dates of the construction project, however, thanks to the above-mentioned article in Aravot, the $242,903.23 deal appears to have been cut by Raffi Hovannisian’s successor, Vahan Ter-Ghevondian.

    Manushak Petrosyan was not prosecuted following her resignation, which is not very surprising since the power shift in 1998 didn’t cause her partner and close ally, Gagik Harutiunyan, to lose his office as the Head of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Armenia, therefore retaining his membership on the Board of Trustees ex officio. Moreover, Mrs. Petrosyan’s construction company seemed to be prospering despite her public disgrace.

    Later on, she reappeared on the political platform as a member of Levon Ter-Petrosyan’s election campaign in 2008. Today Manushak Petrosyan is back in her element—she distributes aid donated for political prisoners in Armenia. And this has been creating tensions within the ranks of the Armenian National Congress, those who still remember her deeds as the Executive Director of “Hayastan” All-Armenian Fund. Who knows what offices await her in case of Levon Ter-Petrosyan’s return to presidency?

  5. Eventual privatization of a building constructed by means of “Hayastan” All-Armenian Fund.
  6. On July 07, 2007, Hayeli Club, where Armenian public figures debate about social, economic and political issues, hosted Artsvik Minasyan, ARF member, former Government official, and Armen Martirosyan, Heritage Party member. The latter touched upon an exemplary incident that reveals a mechanism of a shady transaction between the Government officials and “Hayastan” All-Armenian Fund:

    “Three days ago, thanks to the active interference of the MPs from the Heritage Party, the brutal destruction of a green territory at the intersection of Pushkin and Yekmalyan streets was prevented. As a matter of fact, this was a case of land allocation from the Government to the All-Armenian Fund. The latter had afterwards sold it to a physical entity. This is prohibited as it wasn’t carried out within the framework of the law.” (see details here or the cached version).

    This seems to be a rare incident of scheme being intercepted. The formula is as follows: first of all All-Armenian Fund is asked to build or renovate a certain building; then, upon completion, a Government official or his friend/family member/business partner privatizes it.

  7. Building improvements on lands owned by a state official or the people close to them.
  8. Smbat Hakobyan, chief trainer of Armenia’s sailing sports, in an interview to Aravot Daily on June 25, 2007 said: “A Union of Sailing has opened in Yerevan, which has obtained windsurfing boards with funds from “Hayastan” All-Armenian Fund under the auspices of President of the Republic. A windsurfing club is under construction on the shores of the Sevan Lake.” A little less than a month later, on July 21, 2007, then President of Armenia Robert Kocharyan opened the first Windsurfing Center in the history of the Republic of Armenia. He’s well-known for his passion for windsurfing and sailboat sports.

    According to Novosti Armenii, “Hayastan” All-Armenian Fund has allocated AMD 257 million (about $767,000), and the construction had begun in November 2006. However, “Hayastan” All-Armenian Fund gives a different figure in the news section of its official website: “With the money of ’”Hayastan”’ All-Armenian Fund 40 sails, windsurfing boards and special outfit was purchased. For the construction of the main building, auxiliary premises, sports halls, beautification of the area and purchase of furnishings the Fund has allocated a total of about AMD 320 million.” Furthermore, in the projects page of the Fund, there is a different figure—$814,288.77.

    First of all, it is unclear why the Fund provides the cost of the project in AMD on one page and in U.S. dollars on another, especially when they don’t seem to match in accordance with the dollar rate of the time.If the money has been provided at the onset of the project, $814,288.77 equals AMD 302,915,422.44 (around AMD 372 for a dollar in November 2006, according to ARKA News Agency). This amount is less than the 320,000,000 indicated on the news page of the “Hayastan” All-Armenian Fund by AMD 17,084,578. What happened to that money? If we assume that the funds were allocated near the end of the project, July 2007, then, at about AMD 335 for a dollar, the cost of the project at $814,288.77 amounts to AMD 272,786,737.95. This is more than AMD 257 million reported by Novosti Armenii and less than 320 million reported by “Hayastan” All-Armenian Fund. This confusion is the transparency of the Fund that is almost impossible to look through.

    Now let’s try to understand why it was so important to spend so much money on a Windsurfing Center, while there were so many other problems that required urgent solution such as water supply in rural areas. The Windsurfing Center was built in the area of a resort complex called Kaputak Sevan. According to media leaks, it belongs to Robert Kocharyan.

    In an unrelated story titled “A Waitress From Kaputak Sevan Becomes School Headmaster” published in Aravot Daily on December 7, 2007, Bella Kocharyan, former First Lady, is referred to as the owner of Kaputak Sevan resort. There is no evidence of either Kocharyan refuting the information or the newspaper publishing a refutation in any subsequent issue. This information was later partially confirmed in a scandalous publication titled “Why All Current Attempts To Normalize Regular Armenian Citizens’ Lives Are Doomed,” which appeared in Russian media in October of 2010 and then flooded the Armenian web. The article reporting on the fortunes of the key Armenian officials and oligarchs also provides a list of Robert Kocharyan’s properties, where he appears to be 100% owner of Kaputak Sevan resort complex (registered under Artak Voskanyan’s name).

    “Hayastan” All-Armenian Fund has a different explanation about the choice of the location: “The north-eastern shore of the Sevan Lake has been chosen for the sports base, because there is always favorable wind over there.”

    In the bylaws of “Hayastan” All-Armenian Fund, Clause 37 of Chapter 5 (Governing Bodies of the Fund), says: “If an issue related to the assets and other interests of a member of the Board of Trustees or anyone related to him/her is discussed at a session of the Board of Trustees, then that member does not participate in the voting.”

    It is interesting to know whether Kocharyan participated in the voting related to the Windsurfing Center. It is also interesting to know what exactly the Fund implies by presenting Republic of Armenia as the donor for the windsurfing project.

    The news sources emphasize that the youth can train at the center free of charge. At the same time, “Hayastan” All-Armenian Fund adds that the state budget will cover the costs of maintenance, training and organization of events (such as “Former President Robert Kocharyan’s Cup” of windsurfing which took place in August of 2009, click here for details).

    Kaputak Sevan is quite an expensive spot. In fact, so expensive that Armenian residents often prefer to take 10-15 times longer rides to relax on the shores of the Black Sea in Batumi, Georgia, and fill the neighbor’s coffers. Kaputak Sevan, nevertheless, finds ways to sustain itself—70 disabled children enjoyed their vacation at the luxury resort in August 3-24, 2010, sponsored by the Fund of the President of Armenia (ArmenPress, August 27, 2010).

    Kaputak Sevan is where nowadays retired Robert Kocharyan loves to spend his summer. This is how News.am describes the ex-President’s rest on August 9, 2010: “It is common knowledge that the former President is fond of water sports, windsurfing, powerboats, and engages in these activities for the most part of his summer leisure.”

Lastly, the fact that Grant Thornton Amyot audits the company isn’t sufficient to restore the tainted trust in the organization’s financial matters. There are three main factors that may potentially render the audits questionable:

  1. The head of the Control Committee of “Hayastan” All-Armenian Fund in charge of the financial activities is Gagik Khachatryan, Head of the State Revenues Committee, who has turned a blind eye to too many violations and abuses in his Government office to be trusted.
  2. Companies that rotate audit firms are more reliable. Grant Thornton has been auditing “Hayastan” All-Armenian Fund for five years in a row since 2005. “Auditors may become stale and view the audit as a simple repetition of earlier engagements. This staleness fosters a tendency to anticipate results rather than keeping alert to subtle but important changes in circumstances,” say Barbara Arel, Richard G. Brody, and Kurt Pany in their article “Audit Firm Rotation and Audit Quality.” It is advisable to rotate audit firms at least twice a year.
  3. The third one will be covered in Part II of this white paper.

To be continued…

Ara K. Manoogian is a human rights activist representing the Shahan Natalie Family Foundation in Artsakh and Armenia, as well as a Fellow of the Washington-based Policy Forum Armenia (PFA), creator of www.thetruthmustbetold.com

Advertisements
  1. Hilda Grigorian
    Դեկտեմբերի 18, 2010, ժ. 9:30 ե.

    Ara, this is BY FAR an immaculate report representing AF’s status, NOT as a humanitarian NGO, but acting as a resource of money embezzlement, corruption and operating behind black clouds, another case of a non-profit gone bad. History has shown that a non-profit organization blending in political and religious figures drives into a destruction and loses mission and vision… which is to “help people”. I would like for AF executive director to explain the main intent behind implementation of a “surfing project” to accommodate a leisure life style of a key official, I wonder if Mr. Kotanjian bothered to travel couple of miles into Sevan city to witness poverty and lack of basic living needs of people. My NGO rebuilt an entire kindergarten playground for $2500 which resulted in 40 percent increase in enrollment and ultimately led to a sustained project. This kindergarten, one and only in Sevan is now fully functional and sustained… a true success story for a cost of $2500.

    I certainly hope that donors to AF come to their senses and demand a non-biased audit of the fund by a third party with no connection to Armenia, it will cost $15k to bring all the fraud and scam of this fund on surface, this is in my wish list and I will do it one day.

    Well done Ara……..well done, you are the only one with guts and willingness to expose this fund to masses.

  2. Մարտի 1, 2011, ժ. 6:19 ա.

    Dear Ms. Grigorian

    Very well done!! Great job with the kindergarden. Hayastan All Armenian Fund has done 100s of such projects throughout Armenia and Artsakh and I am by no means saying that we are the only ones who do that. But, we surely are ready to jointly with you compare the prices of the works and the quiality of the work done by us. As I said we are open in any way.
    And again, I feel pity that you still do not know that we, Hayastan All Armenian Fund, are the only organization of such type operating in Armenia that undergoes a third party audit each year. Furthermore our audit is both financial and physical, whereas other organizations operating in Armenia under the name of diaspora do not follow the simple rules of being honest with their donors. Concerning the Sevan project, again, this is simple lack of information from your side. The project was done with a donation of a donor from Russian Federation who specifically wanted to do this project and nothing else. The club belongs to the olympic association of Armenia and is not private.
    Please note that we are not talking about the projects other organizations do!!!! Trust me there is so much to talk about. The numerous organizations operating in Diaspora claiming that they do good work for Armenia and Karabakh, but in fact they are just simply steeling the money. I wonder why none of you talks about that???? Hayastan All Armenian Fund is the unique organization in our reality and I beleive that our donors trust us, as we are the most openly working organization. This proves the constantly rising number of people who support us.
    Dear Hilda, painting the old tank in a village and providing a few meters of pipe does not give the right to say that one have solved the water issue in the village. Please go and see the water projects that we do, and then only, you will see the difference. Its great that you did a playground for 2.500 dollars. We do too, but we find more donors so that we do the play ground and the whole building and equip it too. If we do someting that it should be good and long term. This is the difference between us and other organizations.
    I am always open to any kind of discussions and criticizm, but if those are not based or gossips and rumors. The article of Ara Manugian is a bulk of unrelated articles which have nothing to do with our organization at all.
    I guess somebody is very interested in playing with our reputation, but trust me this is not going to give him/her any results. Our donors believe us and are ready to stand by us. I would rather read and see what Ara has done so far for Armenia and Karabakh, instead of spending all his valuable time writing fairy tails about our organization. I guess Ara thinks that he is the owner of Armenian Wikileaks, but the difference is that Wikileaks provides things that have been said or done, whereas Ara’s articles are mostly romours. The info about Raffi Hovhanissian, Petros Terzian is fully made up and has nothing to do with the reality. A bulk of other things stated have nothing to do with us and I really doubt that they are true too. Basically, we stick to the Armenian nature, if we see that someone, in this case Hayastan All Armenian Fund, is doing good, we become jealous and start doing everything to make sure that everything goes bad!!!!! I have stated 100 times that we are open for meetings and interviews, why do you think Ara did not come, but preferred writing an article about Hayastan All Armenian Fund. Because he wanted to do something bad, its that simple. My staff and I spend at least 10 hours a day working here in Yerevan trying to make sure that everything is going according to the set plan and our commitements. Our friends in over than 20 affiliate offices throughout the world spend their time and work for free to help Amrenia and Artsakh, and I really do not know what Ara does?
    And you tell him “well done!!, you are the only one with the guts and willingness to expose this fund to the masses”. Well guess what, this fund has been exposed to the masses since its inception, and this is the key to our success. I invite all interested people to visit Armenia and Karabakh to see the work that we do with the help of Armenians around the world, its truly unbeleivable!!! So much has been done !!!!! One must really be blind to not see it.

    Best Regards

    Ara Vardanyan
    Executive Director
    Hayastan All Armenian Fund

  3. Hilda Grigorian
    Մարտի 2, 2011, ժ. 12:31 ա.

    Dear Mr. Vardanyan:

    Many thanks for your delayed response which unfortunately lacks substance and insightful solution.

    First and Foremost, I have known Ara Manoogian for the past several years and have high respect for him and his family, Ara is a true patriot who has deep passion and compassion for the motherland and lived in Martuni under harsh living condition for years, while you made some disrespectful comments towards him with false presumptions, but I am delighted to see you approved his dedication to have spent endless hours of research to write this paper which is backed up with factual data. Perhaps, it’s best to spend time and energy to get to know Mr. Manoogian prior making any comments, then again, this not the venue for personal comemnts. In any case, should you have any issues with Ara, kindly confront him directly.

    Mr. Vardanyan, I admire your hard work, passion and compassion for Armenia, as a matter of fact, I do admire WHOEVER extends a helping hand to Armenia, however I do not appreciate sarcastic and childish remarks which doesn’t serve any purpose, so, let’s leave out such remarks and get to the facts and figures.

    Mr. Vardanyan, you don’t know who I am, what I do and have done for Armenia, therefore, you assume I simply raise funds to do small projects and be glorified like any other diaspora……well, I certainly hope you find out a bit more about my activities and what I have and still doing for Armenia, but that won’t be the case, because you will not find my name anywhere, as I DON’T WISH to be glorified and build an empire to serve a hidden agenda, as I have only ONE AGENDA which is to rebuild villages and help the poor to pull themselves out of poverty trap.

    Mr. Vardanyan, allow me to take a few moment and introduce myself to give you a better idea of my background. I have over 25 years of International Development Experience in private sector, worked for a top Fortune 100 company in California, followed by 7 years of NGO experience, with working experience in Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Armenia, distance volunteer work for NGO groups in the Republic of Sierra Leon and Mongolia. During my deployment in Afghanistan, I have briefed Presidents, Obama, Bush, Karzai and several higher ranking Generals in U.S. and NATO forces. I have received the highest achievement awards from NATO and U.S. forces in Afghanistan. I was a program officer to manage a large portion of the largest USAID funded community development program in Afghanistan. I am holding an MBA with a 3.77 GPA and a Ph.D. Candidate in International NGO Management and Local Governance Sustainability/International Development. I have worked for many donor agencies and very well known in development arena…..so, with this background, I would like to make a point that I have a thorough knowledge of development in TCNs. Let me go back to your disrespectful comment of “painting an old tank and providing water pipe doesn’t resolve the water issue”, you are FLAT OUT WRONG, not only we replaced a pump and a tank, we employed community members (short term sustainable income)provided materials to communities to build a water networking system, we then trained community members to operate and maintain the system and ensure sustainability through capacity building, if you don’t call this a SUCCESS, then you need to take few DEVELOPMENT courses to understand the principles of development. I have no doubt that AF has implemented several successful projects, but I seriously doubt if any project is fully functional and/or has a built in sustainability plan behind it, if I am wrong, then please send me names of few projects to visit while I am in Armenia next month.

    Mr. Vardanyan, I am a developer and I measure success through impact and not outcome….these are two different end results, you can set indicators for a project with several outcome, but impact is what matters at the end, I have implemented projects with high end impact in venerable communities, I spent thousands of my own retirement funds to help poor to get back on their feet and I am proud of my achievements, now I can hold my head up high with proud to say, I have paid my dues to the motherland. I did not publicize my projects and donors as AF has done, I did not involve any political/religious leaders in my fund as AF has done, why? because I BELIEVE IN MY MISSION……which is to serve the POOR.

    Mr. Vardanyan, hats off to you an your staff for hard work and 10 hours a day, which in my opinion is not sufficient to operate a large fund as AF, ..frankly speaking I have worked with several NGOs in Armenia, we worked 14 hours a day, 7 days a week, and these are small NGOs, I certainly hope you are paid generously for your hard work. I respect all volunteers and donors who believe in this fund, the intent here is NOT to ruin AFs reputation but to bring awareness to masses.

    Mr. Vardanyan, everyone is entitle to an opinion and belief system, I DON’T BELIEVE in AF, PERIOD…..why? Armenia Fund started in a perfect path, but diverted itself in different ways to serve and glorify high ranking officials in Armenia…..the fund lost it’s vision and priority, HELPING PEOPLE is NO LONGER a priority for AF…..very sad truth….again, you can argue all you want, I am entitle to my opinion, based on my findings back in 2004 when I worked as a consultant to conduct a “due diligence” of NGO/INGOs working in Armenia, so, again, you don’t know me well enough to know that I have done my research 7 years ago. In my humble opinion, AF can not measure success based on impact and sustainability, AF simply implement projects where it’s convenient and visible to masses(e.g., public park in Baghramian Street, which serves absolutely NO PURPOSE), huge PR, photo ops, great looking website, mass media…yet NO IMPACT…I am not BLIND nor am I an IDIOT not to see what the fund has done, again, more power to you all, but YOU MUST BE A DEVELOPER to see from a developer stand point and recognize the absence of sustainability and quality in your projects.

    At the end of the day, AF does not reach out to the grass roots, to those who suffer from hunger, starvation (at least not to those villages I traveled in Northern Marzes), to those who can not afford to buy medicine to prolong their death, those who walk several miles to reach a functional school and women who die at child birth due to poor roads and lack of access to a medical facility…..simply said…..AF failed these people, refer to UNDP Human Development Report (HDR) and Human Development Index (HDI) to understand where Armenia stands right now.

    Mr. Vardanyan, have you ever asked yourself as to WHY MCC pulled the plug on Armenia? why other donors are disappearing from Armenia? why diaspora has no longer have faith in NGO/INGOs? you seem to be an intelligent individual, do yourself a favor and start researching to find the answer.

    In conclusion, it’s time to teach Armenia HOW TO FISH rather than GIVING IT A FISH TO FEED SELF.

    Again, I wish to thank you for taking time from your busy schedule and write a note, please do enlighten us with insightful information and proof us wrong.

    Yours for Armenia

    Hilda Grigorian, MBA
    Ph.D. Candidate
    NGO Management/International Development Local Governance Sustainability

  1. Հունվարի 5, 2011, ժ. 8:06 ե.
  2. Հունվարի 6, 2011, ժ. 12:58 ա.
  3. Հունվարի 11, 2011, ժ. 5:18 ե.
  4. Հունվարի 16, 2011, ժ. 6:42 ա.
  5. Փետրվարի 26, 2011, ժ. 2:51 ա.
  6. Փետրվարի 28, 2011, ժ. 9:24 ե.

Թողնել պատասխան

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Փոխել )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Փոխել )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Փոխել )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Փոխել )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: