October 27, 2015

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

Koza İpek Holding CEO Akın İpek, whose companies were seized after a government-backed decision on Monday, has said the government took action after failing to find anything illegal during inspections of his company.

İpek commented on the seizure during a live phone interview with Bugün TV, saying the holding was notified about the decision after reports emerged in the media on the issue, stressing that the government seized the companies after failing to find anything illegal during a series of raids.

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,” which refers to a pool of funds contributed by pro-government businessmen in return for favors in the form of public tenders over five years.

“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 slanders,” 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, 26 October 2015, Monday