Turkish government puts up for sale the company it seized in post-coup crackdown

Turkey’s Deposit Insurance Fund (TMSF) has launched an auction to sell out some properties belonging to İzmir-based Kavuklar Group, the conglomerate seized as part of the government’s post-coup crackdown against the Gülen movement.

The government accuses the movement of to be behind the July 15 coup attempt.

Established in 1970, Kavuklar has interests in automotive, real estate, construction, finance, food, and printing businesses. The government appointed a trustee panel to run the company and jailed its chairman Abdullah Kavuk along with his son Metehan Kavuk, in Oct. 2016. While Metehan Kavuk was released in February this year, his father is still kept behind bars.

The auction was attended by no potential buyers.

Turkish government has effectively nationalized 809 companies by taking over their management or turning them over to the Treasury as of January 2017 as part of the crackdown on opposition and critical groups in the country, according to a parliamentary inquiry.

Responding to a motion filed by the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Denizli deputy Melike Basmacı, deputy Prime Minister Nurettin Canikli said the government has seized 809 companies as of Jan.11, 2017 with a total value of TL38,3 billion (nearly $10 billion).

That represents an escalation on the asset seizure and nationalization efforts by Turkish government that appears to be determined in grabbing the wealth of critics and opponents in an effort to deprive the opposition of financial resources and enrich its loyalists.

On Sept.1, 2016, Minister for Environment and Urbanization Mehmet Özhaseki said some TL 12 billion (about $4 billion) in property has been transferred to the Treasury as part of an investigation into the Hizmet movement.

The government initially said they will take over the management of companies until the investigation, prosecution and trial phases are completed. That was changed with a new government decree No.680 earlier this month, allowing the government to dispose of the seized assets, auction them off and sell to the third parties.

The decree mainly covers companies that are alleged to have been affiliated with or sponsored Hizmet movement, inspired by the US-based Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen who is a vocal critic of Turkey’s autocratic President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on government’s involvement in corruption as well as aiding and abetting radical armed groups in Syria. Turkish government branded Gülen as ‘terrorist’ and asked for his extradition from the US. Washington has so far balked at the request, citing lack of any evidence suggesting Gülen is involved in any type of terror activity.

Turkish government has led the campaign to crackdown on firms on alleged links to Gulen with the Savings Deposit Insurance Fund (TMSF) taking over the assets and wealth of major corporations.

Assets of prominent businessman Akın İpek, whose worth is estimated at $7 billion, were seized as well as all property and assets of Boydak Holding, a leading business group in the central province of Kayseri.

The government also seized Bank Asya, the largest Islamic lender that is affiliated with Gülen, on dubious grounds of financial mismanagement in May 2015. The bank’s shareholders denied the allegations and launched a legal action.

The arbitrary seizures, considered as an attack on right to private property and right to free enterprise by many, drew negative reactions from the opposition as well as from abroad, shaking investors’ confidence in Turkish economy. (SCF with turkeypurge.com) March 21, 2017

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