Turkish gov’t selling aircraft seized from Gülen-linked businessmen

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Turkey’s state-run Savings Deposit Insurance Fund (TMSF) is selling two private passenger jets owned by companies seized from businessmen over their alleged links to the Gülen movement, a faith-based group targeted by the Turkish government, the Sözcü daily reported on Wednesday.

Ankara accuses the Gülen movement, a faith-based group invested in education and relief work throughout the world and inspired by Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen, of masterminding a failed coup in 2016. The movement strongly denies any involvement in it. 

The government has been confiscating the private property of businesspeople with alleged ties to the movement without due process on unsubstantiated charges.

The TMSF is going to sell one of the planes, a 14-passenger Gulfstream G450 owned by a subsidiary of İpek Holding, seized from billionaire Akın İpek, who currently lives in exile in London, at an auction on January 8, 2021. The aircraft has an appraised value of $12,650,000.

Although Akın İpek lives in exile, a Turkish court in January handed down lengthy sentences to Cafer Tekin İpek and Melek İpek, former board members of İpek Holding, on conviction of membership in the Gülen movement.

Cafer Tekin İpek, a brother of Akın İpek, received nearly 80 years’ imprisonment, while their mother Melek İpek was given 12 years, eight months in prison.

The 13 remaining defendants were also handed down jail sentences ranging between two and 10 years.

The court ordered that the defendants’ shares in the company be transferred to the Treasury and that the board of trustees continue to run the organization.

“The only reason for what they are doing to us is money. There is no other logical explanation for what happened to my brother Tekin or my mother, who is in the last years of her life,” Akın İpek told Turkish Minute in a recent interview.

The other aircraft on the block, a Cessna Citation Sovereign, belonged to a company owned by Boydak Holding, a business group seized by the government in August 2016. 

The TMSF will be selling the Cessna on Friday, with an appraised value of $5,500,000.

Active in a number of sectors, including energy, furniture, and banking with 38 subsidiary companies, Boydak Holding has an annual turnover of more than TL 6 billion ($2 billion) and employs over 13,000 people.

In 2018 Boydak Holding executive Memduh Boydak was given a jail sentence of 18 years on charges of leading a terrorist organization. Hacı Boydak received 11 years, 10 months and Şükrü Boydak 10 years, both on charges of membership in a terrorist organization. Other executives, namely Mustafa Boydak, Erol Boydak, Bekir Boydak, İlyas Boydak and Murat Bozdağ, were given seven years, six months in prison each on similar charges.

The assets of thousands of people with alleged ties to the Gülen movement were confiscated or frozen by the government both before and after the failed coup. 

According to a report by Brussels-based human rights group Platform for Peace and Justice (PPJ), the total value of confiscated or frozen assets is $32 billion.

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