October 27, 2015

Expert report says Koza İpek Holding accounts too perfect to be real

An expert report which was used as the basis for the decision to take over Koza İpek Holding has been revealed to contain statements to the effect that although it is very common to see improprieties in the official transactions of large conglomerates in Turkey, the holding's transactions did not contain any.

Koza İpek was put under administrative receivership by an Ankara court on suspicion of financing terrorism, on Monday. When the legal grounds asserted by the court for the decision failed to satisfy judicial experts, the company's lawyers disclosed one of the pretexts that led the way to the handover of the firm.

“In countries like Turkey which have volatile economic conditions, it does not suit financial, technical or commercial realities that companies would not have improprieties in their corporate structures where large sums of money are exchanged.

“There is no perfect corporation, accounting system or financial structure in the world. However, the corporation in question appears perfect in its official documentation, according to gathered information,” the report maintained, portraying the lack of irregularities as a source of doubt about the corporation's activity.

A lawyer for the holding, Hakan Yıldız, addressed the report by saying: ”[It turns out] being excellent is enough for reasonable suspicion. This institution has undergone an action like this because of its perfectness.”

The holding, which has among its subsidiaries leading media outlets critical of the government, has long been at the center of 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.

Koza İpek CEO says gov't seized companies after failing to find any illegal activity

The holding's CEO Akın İpek remarked on Monday night that the government seized the companies after failing to find anything illegal while inspecting the company's affairs previously

İpek commented on the seizure during a live phone interview with Bugün TV, saying the holding found out about the decision after reports emerged in the media. Auditors accompanied by a police escort conducted a raid on the offices of Koza İpek Holding in Ankara last month, while simultaneous raids on subsidiaries of the group were carried out elsewhere, as part of a media crackdown initiated by the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) ahead of the Nov. 1 elections. All those detained during the raids were released, and the Finance Ministry's Financial Crimes Investigation Board (MASAK), which conducted the raids, failed to find any illegal activities or transactions.

İpek recalled that he had said at the time of the raids that if the MASAK inspectors and police were able to find even a cent of illicit money, he was prepared to give the holding to them. “But they could not,” İpek said on Monday. The businessman stressed that the campaign targeting his group was launched after he refused to join what is called the “pool media.” The pool refers to an alleged pool of funds saved over years by pro-government businessmen in return for favors in the form of public tenders. “If I had entered that pool as well, I would have been much richer and the judiciary would have protected me. But I was not involved such an illegitimate business, and now they have appointed a trustee to my companies. I prefer continuing my life without wealth rather than being in that pool, which is full of lies and slander,” İpek added.

He also added that managers from the Turkuvaz Media Group, which has under its banner pro-government newspapers Sabah and Takvim and the ATV station as well as the English-language Daily Sabah, will be appointed as trustees to his companies. Turkuvaz is also known to be in the “pool media,” since allegations surfaced that a group of businessmen formed a pool of funds to purchase the group as per the instructions of then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in return for privileged treatment in public tenders. These allegations are based on a number of voice recordings, purportedly of Erdoğan and businessmen who were involved in the scheme. Anonymous Twitter accounts uploaded the recordings onto social media platforms, arguing that they were legally obtained during surveillance in corruption investigations that had been crippled by mass purges of prosecutors and police officers.

Published on Today's Zaman, 27 October 2015, Tuesday