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Rally in Yerevan Against Bankrupt Dairy Company

Ashtarak Kat dairy company has filed a lawsuit against nearly 300 small-scale businesses to recover millions of dollars in unpaid debt for previously delivered products. A large group of business owners, meanwhile, rallied outside the Government building on Thursday, claiming that they have already paid for the products and are now “dealing with a crime group formed by the company and a liquidation committee.”

For years, Ashtarak Kat supplied dairy products to a vast number of small-scale businesses in Yerevan and the provinces. According to the organizers of the rally, they always paid the company’s employees in cash on the spot. The company, however, would constantly promise and fail to give them a receipt during the next delivery.

“The company’s employees who used to deliver the products and happen to be among us now can also testify to this. They personally handed the money received from business owners over to the company’s accounting department. They also signed a document there to remove this debt from themselves, but this evidence has since been hidden. The proof of payment is nowhere to be found. We are deeply convinced that this operation was carried out by an organized criminal group, which means that there is also an issue of national security here,” Arthur Atayan, chairman of the Center for the Protection of Rights of Armenian Business Entities and Consumers NGO, told reporters during the rally.

“We gave the money to the delivery guy right on the spot. Two years later, we are facing a court claim for the recovery of this money,” Gevorg Harutyunyan, a private business owner who has been sued by the company, said.

“We worked like this for many years without any issues. At some point they decided randomly to consider the money unpaid,” another protester argued.

Several dozen business owners have applied to the Rights Protection Center for legal assistance. Today they also submitted an appeal letter to the Armenian president, the prime minister, the general prosecutor and the head of the National Security Service.

Ashtarak Kat was declared bankrupt by a Yerevan first instance court in December, 2016, for large debts to the state, its employees and milk suppliers. The company has since been purchased by Pargev CJSC.