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Questions roil Armenian Genocide compensation fund

Man says $574,000 was deposited in account opened in his name.

November 03, 2012|By Mark Kellam, mark.kellam@latimes.com

More than $1.6 million has been paid out from a compensation fund for descents of Armenian Genocide victims, according to a status report filed in a lengthy lawsuit in U.S. District Court.

However, four of the 32 claimants who haven’t been paid have died and attorneys are seeking direction from U.S. District Judge Christina Snyder about whether their families — who have verified their lineage to the descendants — should be paid the funds instead.

Snyder is also being asked to order banks that handled past transactions from the Axa S.A. insurance settlement fund to check various forms to see if any fraudulent transactions have occurred. The request follows some questionable financial activities regarding compensation funds in the past.

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The lawsuit stems from allegations made by Glendale-based attorney Vartkes Yeghiayan that there were accounting discrepancies in the fund set up by the French insurer. He has requested an audit of all 3,000 claims.

The accounting firm of Holthouse, Carlin and Van Tright has been handling the payment of about $2.1 million to 159 claimants. About 75% of the funding has been paid out so far, according to the status report.

However, 28 of the 32 remaining claimants have not responded to multiple attempts by the accounting firm to contact them.

In a past status report, concerns were raised about 17 checks totaling more than $312,000 that were made payable to compensation claimants, but appear to have been endorsed by Los Angeles attorney Berj Boyajian and deposited into an account called Boyajian and Associates at Union Bank.

Boyajian wrote checks totaling $118,127 to various individuals from insurance settlement funds that he had deposited into his Union Bank account, but Boyajian allegedly kept the remaining $194,166 until last June, according to the status report filed in federal district court.

On June 28, shortly after the previous status report was filed outlining the suspicious check endorsements by Boyajian, a check for $194,166 was written from an account for Boyajian’s legal counsel and deposited into the Axa settlement account, the report states.

Boyajian doesn’t deny the transactions and his attorney submitted documentation under oath affirming them.

The report also states that Boyajian, citing his Fifth Amendment rights, refused to answer significant questions during a deposition in the case.

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