LOS ANGELES–Reliable sources have confirmed that, in the matter of the Garabed Melkonian Trust, Archbishop Mesrob Mutafyan, in his fiduciary capacity as Patriarch of Constantinople, filed a lawsuit against New York-based Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) on January 13, 2005. The suit was filed in the Superior Court of the State of California for the County of Los Angeles by plaintiff Mutafyan’s California-based attorney.
The lawsuit mainly addresses the formal announcement made by the AGBU in March 2004 that it would be closing the Melkonian Educational Institution in Nicosia, Cyprus at the end of the 2005 school year.
In July 1921, wealthy Armenian businessman Garabed Melkonian donated a gift to then Patriarch of Constantinople Zaven Der Yeghyayan, to establish and maintain Armenian schools, as well as carry out various charitable works for the Armenian people. In 1924, the value of the gift was at least $3.5 million and per Melkonian’s request, an Armenian school and orphanage named the Melkonian Educational Institute was established in Nicosia, Cyprus.
In 1925, Patriarch Der Yeghyayan transferred the entire Melkonian gift, including the Melkonian Educational Institute, to the AGBU due to the latter’s expressed ability to better manage the trust’s assets and execute the donor’s intentions.
The suit, Arch. Mesrob Mutafyan vs. Armenian General Benevolent Union, petitions to compel AGBU to perform the Trustee’s duties and redress a breach of trust by payment of money or otherwise.
Asbarez tried to contact Mutafyan for comment but has not yet received a response.