September 17, 2015

Reaction grows over bogus political raids on İpek Media Group

Reaction has grown over this month’s bogus politically motivated raids on the İpek Media Group and its parent company Koza İpek Holding, the charges all proven to be fabricated, 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 Sept. 1. They remained at the company’s Ankara headquarters for several days, confiscating copies of computer hard drives as well as all financial records and bank account information. A week later, a team of about 50 police officers returned to the offices, having forgotten to take the balance sheets during the initial raid.

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

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 never existed.

The five-year audit report by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), one of the big four global audit firms, also confirmed Koza’s claim, stating that “all accounting records between the years 2009 and 2015 reflect the truth.” 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). The transaction was caused by an IT error at the local AK Bank branch in Ankara.

In assessing the case, individuals as high up as former Minister of Justice Hikmet Sami Türk have all dismissed the allegations as nothing more than “baseless,” underlining the clear political motivations and oppression. “This case can be summed up as an intolerant oppression. Given that the holding has investments in media and other fields, each group's establishments are also inevitably facing oppression. With the excuse of tax inspections, the authorities are trying to silence voices of opposition. This is unacceptable for any democratic country,” said Türk.

Former State Security Court Judge Mete Göktürk echoed the political nature of the case: “The aim is clearly to intimidate the institution, which by the way, goes through regular audits and has no problems with its finances.”

The legal atrocity of the case was slammed by main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Ankara deputy Murat Emir: “Imagine, an investigation being launched by the prosecutor fails at gaining any credibility. It is clear that the rule of law has turned into a strong arm for the government. Phony stories and slander are being used as a basis for an operation… [The government] is manipulating the law as a weapon against individuals who have committed no crime.”

“Everyone knows that the Koza İpek Group has no shortcomings,” expressed fellow CHP deputy Melike Basmacı, adding: “I hope that these illegal measures will end shortly. Those who have ordered and engaged in such slander and illegality will pay the price.”

Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) Adana Deputy Seyfettin Yılmaz called on the government to instead investigate the 2013 corruption allegations surrounding the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s son. “The corruption scandal of the century, which implicated the president’s son, is being shoved aside, and instead businessmen and manufacturers are being targeted. This is nothing more than a vendetta and an attack on groups who do not kneel down to authority. While all of this is going on, foreign investors are fleeing away from the country. If people do not raise their voices, it seems these measures will unfortunately continue.”

Law expert and Gaziantep Deputy for the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) Celal Doğan expressed: “During my career I have looked over thousands of cases, but have never seen such a case. The claim that these measures are [intended] to tackle ‘a parallel terror state’ is nothing but a lie. The government is taking away everyone’s right to live.”

Published on BGNNews, 17 September 2015, Thursday