Turkish gov’t sells properties of 11 businessmen seized over alleged links to Gülen movement

The Turkish government led by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has put the assets of 11 businessmen who were shareholders in Kaynak Holding. which was seized by the government over its alleged affiliation with the Gülen movement, up for sale.

According to a report by online news outlet TR7/24, the Turkish government has put up for sale more than 350 pieces of real estate belonging to Kaynak Holding shareholders Ali Şaşmaz, Ali Akbulut, Behçet Akyar, Hamit Çiçek, İzzet Akyar, Mehmet Demircan, Mehmet Gözütok, Mehmet Sungur, Naci Tosun, Sait Keleş and Selim Şenocak. It was reported that the value of the sale is expected to reach 1 billion Turkish lira.

Eleven properties in Malatya, İstanbul, Ankara, Çanakkale and Tekirdağ provinces that were belonged to the Ortadoğu Textile and BJ Textile companies owned by businessman Akbulut, who is also the former owner of the now-closed Zaman daily and one of the main shareholders of the now-closed private Islamic lender Bank Asya, had been seized by the Turkish government following a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016. Seven properties in İstanbul of businessman Akyar, who was the owner of the famous Aker Scarf brand, were also seized by the government over his alleged links to the Gülen movement.

The Turkish government had appointed trustees to 19 companies, a foundation and an association under the umbrella of Kaynak Holding in 2015 and had seized all the assets in the wake of the coup bid.

At least 6,700 pieces of real estate that were seized from alleged members of the Gülen movement have been transferred by Turkey’s General Directorate of Land Registry and Cadastre to the Treasury and the General Directorate of Foundations since the abortive coup.

According to a statement issued by Turkey’s General Directorate of Land Registry and Cadastre on July 15, 2018, 4,583 properties had been transferred to the Treasury as of July 9, 2018, and 2,117 properties were transferred to the General Directorate of Foundations. In total 6,700 properties that used to belong to alleged members of the Gülen movement have been transferred to public institutions.

In addition, investigations carried out by the General Directorate of Land Registry and Cadastre into 348,151 properties are still underway. According to the statement, investigations of 121,696 properties were launched following requests from administrative authorities and probes of 226,455 properties were launched upon the request of judicial authorities.

The Turkish government has seized nearly 1,100 companies across Turkey with a total value of $12 billion in assets and transferred them to the Savings Deposit Insurance Fund (TMSF). The companies were mostly targeted as part of the government crackdown on the Gülen movement.

According to a survey conducted by Brussels-based The Arrested Lawyers Initiative in June 2018, the Turkish government has transferred some TL 49,4 billion ($11 billion) in assets of 1,124 companies seized for alleged affiliation with the Gülen movement to a special fund under a crackdown that began following a controversial coup attempt on July 15, 2016.

The survey said that as of June 4, 2018 the TMSF controls 1,124 seized companies and also the personal assets of 127 individuals. Among the companies are Boydak Holding, which has 34 subsidiaries including the Bellona and İstikbal furniture makers and retailers, with 1,240 retail stores. Boydak employs 14,000 people and indirectly creates 110,000 jobs, the survey said.

The other seized major Turkish companies cited in the survey include Koza, Dumankaya, Akfa, Orkide, Sesli and Naksan

Turkey has seized the companies under presidential decrees, and their owners had no judicial recourse. The proprietors are allegedly members of the Gülen movement. Trustees have been appointed to run the companies against their shareholders’ wishes.

The companies are active in all areas of business and trade including investment, mining, petrol distribution, automotive, auto-gas, energy, transportation, food, agriculture, home textiles, furniture, jewellery, pharmaceuticals, law and IT, said the survey.

The value of the assets seized does not include those of 127 individuals, 19 unions, 15 private universities, 49 hospitals, 145 foundations, 174 media outlets, 1,419 foundations and another 2,271 education companies, it said. The total value of all assets confiscated could total TL 100 billion, added the survey.

According to the survey, at the very beginning of a state of emergency (OHAL) declared on July 23, 2016 in the aftermath of the coup bid, 934 private schools, 109 dormitories, 35 hospitals, 15 private universities, 16 unions, 104 foundations and 1,125 associations were dissolved and all their assets including real estate, bank accounts, intellectual property and other financial assets were transferred to the public treasury. As of June 4, at least 4,100 profit-oriented or non-profit legal entities had been dissolved, and their assets were confiscated under decree-laws without any judicial procedure.

Turkey survived a controversial military coup attempt on July 15, 2016 that killed 249 people. Immediately after the putsch, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government along with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan pinned the blame on the Gülen movement.

Fethullah Gülen, who inspired the movement, strongly denied having any role in the failed coup and called for an international investigation into it, but President Erdoğan — calling the coup attempt “a gift from God” — and the government initiated a widespread purge aimed at cleansing sympathizers of the movement from within state institutions, dehumanizing its popular figures and putting them in custody.

Turkey has suspended or dismissed more than 150,000 judges, teachers, police and civil servants since July 15. On December 13, 2017 the Justice Ministry announced that 169,013 people have been the subject of legal proceedings on coup charges since the failed coup.

Turkish Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu announced on April 18, 2018 that the Turkish government had jailed 77,081 people between July 15, 2016 and April 11, 2018 over alleged links to the Gülen movement.

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