November 11, 2015

Court fails to explain seizure, CEO of targeted holding says

Koza İpek Holding CEO Akın İpek responded to claims made against his company in a detailed, step-by-step statement posted on his Twitter account on Wednesday, emphasizing that the court has failed to adequately explain its reasons for the company's seizure.

One claim against the company listed on the court-appointed specialist's report alleged that the company was guilty of major accounting fraud, yet no such discrepancies were ever detailed in the report. Another claim was that the company failed to disclose the full extent of its profits for the purpose of evading taxes, though this was also never substantiated, according to İpek in his series of tweets.

The report alleged that the company had received unregistered cash inflows, though İpek also denied this claim, saying that if this were the case, it would not appear on the company's financial statements and that all cash inflows were recorded. Another allegation pegged some of the Koza İpek Holding group's companies as “front” companies, though İpek responded by saying that all companies were active and legitimate.

The management of 22 companies under Koza İpek Holding has been under administrative receivership since late last month, when an Ankara court ruled that Koza was suspected of financing terrorism. Yet, the decision was criticized by many as the latest example of public pressure imposed by the government on dissident voices and business owners. Among the subsidiaries of Koza İpek Holding are two TV channels and two newspapers known for their oppositional stance to the government's policies. The holding has long been under pressure by regulators for its alleged support of Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, against whom President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan launched a witch hunt following the eruption of a corruption scandal in December 2013.

Nearly all of the trustees appointed following the seizure are partisan supporters of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party). The seizure has intensified concerns in Turkey and within the EU, which Turkey seeks to join, about threats to freedom of the media and attempts to silence critics of the AK Party government and President Erdoğan.

Published on Today's Zaman, 11 November 2015, Wednesday