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Armenian Officials Held For 'Bribery'

Tigran Grigorian (right) is accused of demanding bribes
Tigran Grigorian (right) is accused of demanding bribes
YEREVAN -- The Armenian police have announced the arrest on bribery charges of two high-ranking officials from the Environment Ministry, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.

A police statement said Tigran Grigorian, head of the ministry's State Ecological Inspectorate, and his deputy Arsen Petrosian were arrested at their offices late on December 28.

It said police investigators searched the offices and found 5 million drams ($13,260) that were allegedly paid to the two men by an unnamed company recently inspected by the agency.

The statement claimed that Petrosian demanded the bribe in return for turning a blind eye to violations of environmental safety rules allegedly committed by the company.

It said he pocketed 1.2 million drams and passed the rest to his boss. The police also found and confiscated $32,000 in cash in Grigorian's office, added the statement.

Both officials were promptly charged under an article of the Armenian Criminal Code dealing with "large-scale bribery." It is not yet clear how they will plead to the charges.

The Environment Ministry declined to comment on the arrests.