His Holiness Karekin II
- Armenian nationality or passport
Born Ktrij Nersessian, he was enthroned in 1999 as the 132nd Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos (meaning “universal leader”) of Echmiadzin, the holy seat of the Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Church. He has traveled the world visiting the Armenian diaspora and promoting inter-faith dialogue. His travels have taken him to places including Vatican City, the United States, India and Turkey, milestones of his pontifical visits.
HSBC internal files first listed Karekin II among its clients in 2000. He was connected to an account named “His Holiness Karekin II Nersis” that listed one bank account and held as much as $1.1 million in 2006/2007. The leaked files do not specify the exact role that Karekin II had in relation to the account.
A spokesman told ICIJ that the account in question was opened by His Holiness Karekin II's precedessor "for the benefit of the Church and its charities. This account was transferred to His Holiness Karekin II Nersissian upon the death of his predecessor to be used for the same purposes. The Catholicosate –the area of responsibility of the Catholicos- of the Armenian church is a national religious institution and is not subject to any taxes" and that His Holiness "has immunity from any taxes."