Feds mobilize to seize $ 63 million Los Angeles mansion linked to corruption scandal involving Armenian politician

For Sale: A French chateau-style mansion in one of Los Angeles’ most upscale neighborhoods, Holmby Hills, complete with 11 bedrooms, 27 bathrooms and an asking price of $ 63.5 million.

At 33,652 square feet, it’s among the largest homes on the market in Southern California, but there are a few snags. For one, the interior isn’t finished yet. And, this week, federal prosecutors in Los Angeles moved to seize the property, claiming it was the result of corruption involving a powerful Armenian politician and his children.

The United States Department of Justice outlined in a court filing how the property on South Mapleton Drive, a few doors from the Playboy Mansion, was bought in 2011 for $ 14.4 million in bribes to the family of Gagik Khachatryan, l former finance minister of Armenia, by a prominent businessman there.

Khachatryan, 66, his two sons and the businessman are all accused of crimes in Armenia; the businessman is accused of providing bribes of over $ 20 million. A lawyer representing WRH Inc., the company that owns the home, did not respond to a message seeking comment.

The Holmby Hills property went to market on April 7, with real estate agency Hilton & Hyland announcing “the immaculate architecture, the landscaped landscaping and the ability to fully customize the interior.”

Aerial view of a mansion courtyard with a sprawling lawn and swimming pool

The courtyard of the Holmby Hills mansion, which went up for sale in April.

(Hilton & Hyland)

The listing agent, Richard Maslan of Hilton & Hyland, told the Times that a potential buyer will be able to finish the house in the style of their choice. He claims he is still looking for a buyer.

“I’ve been told by the FBI that I can keep doing shows,” Maslan said. “If we get an offer and both the seller and the Justice Department agree on a sale price, we can still sell it.”

The residency saga begins in 2008, when Khachatryan takes over the leadership of the State Revenue Committee, the government agency that assesses and collects taxes in Armenia. Following that post, he served for two years as the country’s finance minister, but continued to oversee tax duties, earning a reputation as a “super-minister,” prosecutors said.

To secure favorable tax treatment, the businessman, Sedrak Arustamyan, allegedly entered into two bogus loan agreements with Khachatryan’s adult children: the first loan in 2009 for $ 7 million and another in 2011 for $ 13.4. millions. Both loans contained agreements specifying when payment was due and terms of interest, but according to court documents, Arustamyan never received any interest or principal payments on any of the “alleged loans”.

To use these alleged loans, Khachatryan and his sons formed multiple entities “to receive, disguise and conceal illegal bribe payments” as well as their purchase of the Holmby Hills property. More than $ 13 million was transferred from Arustamyan directly into West Coast Escrow’s Comerica Bank account, but just days before the sale closed, he claimed he would not hold the stock and waived any claim to the money, according to the court documents.

Immediately after purchasing the home – previously owned by Lions Gate Entertainment executive Jon Feltheimer – the family razed the property and hired Richard Landry, a mega-mansion architect who built trophy estates for celebrities including Mark. Wahlberg, Tom Brady and Wayne Gretzky.

Khachatryan’s children told Landry’s design team that they wanted their children to attend school in Los Angeles and instructed the team to envision the house as their family’s residence, according to court documents.

An unfinished foyer inside a palace with stairs on both sides and large windows

The interior of the palace, designed by Richard Landry, was never completed.

(Hilton & Hyland)

According to court documents, the plans included an elaborate complex, including rooms for Khachatryan, his two sons and daughter, along with the servants’ quarters, a cellar and a two-story library.

Construction began in 2015, and although the Franco-Norman house’s exterior has been completed, along with the gardens, pool and spa, the interior is incomplete.

In 2016, when Khachatryan left office, the alleged corruption scheme came to light and authorities uncovered millions of dollars in unpaid taxes owed by Arsutamyan’s companies, according to prosecutors. Khachatryan was charged with abuse of power and embezzlement in 2019. His children and Arusatamyan were charged in 2020. His children, Gurgen and Artyon, have since fled Armenia, according to court documents.