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Feds want to seize LA mega-mansion in corruption case

May 6, 2022 GMT

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The federal government wants to seize a mega-mansion in an exclusive area of Los Angeles that it claims was purchased with millions in bribe money paid to the former finance minister of Armenia and his sons, it was announced Thursday.

A complaint filed Monday in federal court seeks the forfeiture of the 33,652-square-foot (3,126-square-meter) mansion in Holmby Hills.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice complaint, the home was purchased for $14.4 million in 2011 by a trust on behalf of Gagik Khachatryan and his two sons, who are all facing criminal charges in Armenia.

It wasn’t immediately clear whether they had attorneys in the United States who could speak on their behalf about the forfeiture request. No attorneys for them were listed in the complaint.

The estate, located near the former Playboy Mansion, was later rebuilt into a French Normandy-style estate with 11 bedrooms and 26 full or partial baths and includes a pool, wine cellar, home theater and maids’ quarters, according to real estate listings.

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It was put on the market last month with an asking price of $63.5 million, according to the federal complaint.

Khachatryan, who was known as the “Super Minister” because of his many responsibilities, was chairman of Armenia’s State Revenue Committee from 2008 to 2014 and was minister of finance from 2014 to 2016.

The U.S. government contends that wealthy and influential businessman Sedrak Arustamyan, who also is charged in Armenia, paid Khachatryan and his family more than $20 million in bribes in exchange for favorable tax treatment of his businesses and that some of that money went into buying the Holmby Hills estate.

The government alleges that the home was bought illegally with proceeds derived from an offense against a foreign nation involving bribery of a public official.