September 16, 2015

Bogus allegations against İpek Media Group revealed to be false

The justifications given for this month’s politically motivated raid against the İpek Media Group and its parent company Koza İpek Holding have all been proven to be false; fabricated crimes based on lies and allegations meant to silence and intimidate a critical media outlet.

Teams from the Finance Ministry's Financial Crimes Investigation Board (MASAK), complete with police escort and a 4-page search warrant in hand, raided the headquarters of Koza İpek Holding in Ankara on September 1st. They remained at the company’s Ankara headquarters for several days, where they took copies of the computer hard drives as well as all financial records and bank account information. A week later a team of about 50 police officers arrived once again because the officers had forgotten to take the balance sheets during the previous week’s raid.

One of the grounds for the raid and the subsequent smear campaign against the company was that Koza İpek had allegedly snuck USD 7 billion aboard. However Koza İpek Holding noted that in 5 years its total revenue was only USD 2.5 billion, of which USD 1.5 billion went to production and investment costs, and so never even had the amount described in the charge.

The charge of “illegal wire transfers” was disproven by Turkish banks which have noted in written statements that all money transfers had been conducted legally. The Central Bank’s annual report, which details the movement of money in and out of Turkey, also verifies that the money that was allegedly taken out of Turkey didn’t exist.

The 5 year audit report by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), one of the big four global audit firms, also confirmed Koza’s claim, “All accounting records between the years 2009 and 2015 reflect the truth.”

Additionally, all of Koza İpek Group’s financial records are published on its website for the entire public to see. All money transfers are also shared not just with the Public Disclosure Platform (KAP) but also with all relevant state agencies.

Even though MASAK, the Capital Market’s Board and the Finance Ministry have audited Koza İpek Holding countless times in the past 3 years, none have been able to identify the slightest illegal activity.

That those making the allegations of illegal foreign wire transfers aren’t even mentioning who or which accounts received they funds shows that the charges are baseless.

Foreign investors, international banking circles and the financial world are all apprehensive about investing in Turkey in the face of such blatant slander. The operation against the Koza Group alone caused it to lose nearly TRY 400 million (USD 132 million) in value, and both domestic and international finance suffered a great blow. Small investors in the stock market, many of the foreigners, were intentionally made to suffer.

Another flimsy excuse for the operation was an erroneous 2011-dated money transfer to the bank account of the Koza-İpek Foundation (Koza-İpek Eğitim Sağlık Hizmet Yardım Vakfı) from an unrelated steel company (Ereğli Demir Çelik Fabrikaları AŞ), which was caused by an IT error at the local Akbank branch in Ankara.

The fact that the Akbank branch recognized that the transaction was an error and later withdrew the TRY 122 million (USD 40 million) that was mistakenly sent to the foundation and resent it to the intended corporation, İskenderun Demir ve Çelik AŞ, was even documented in the search warrant issued for the raid.

Koza İpek Group has announced it will be taking legal action in both domestic and international channels against these unlawful lies, allegations and anyone involved in the smear campaign.

Published on BGNNews, 16 September 2015, Wednesday