Turkish billionaires, businesspeople among dozens identified in Pandora Papers

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More than 20 Turks, including billionaires on Forbes’ list and well-known businessmen, were identified in the Pandora Papers, a leak of some 12 million documents that reveal hidden wealth and tax avoidance by some of the world’s rich and powerful, with offshore companies in the British Virgin Islands (BVI), Luxembourg and Seychelles, Deutsche Welle’s Turkish service (DW Türkçe) reported on Friday.

One of them is pro-government businessman Fettah Tamince, the founder and chairman of the Rixos Hotels, whose eight offshore companies in Malta and the BVI were previously revealed in Panama and Paradise Papers leaks. The Pandora Papers show that the two companies that helped him set up his companies in tax havens are Asiaciti Trust and Trident Trust, international trust and corporate services providers.

According to DW, Hüsnü Özyeğin, the 1,750th richest person in the world with a fortune of $1.5 billion in Forbes’ 2021 list and the founder and owner of FIBA Holding, owns a company named Efit Investment Ltd in the BVI, together with his daughter Ayşecan Özyeğin Oktay and son Murat Özyeğin, to whom he transferred the management of his companies in 2019.

Turgay Ciner, founder of Ciner Group, which has investments in Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States, is another figure identified in the leaks. Together with his son Atilla Ciner, he acquired a firm called Jane Andrée S.a.r.l in Luxembourg in 2013 in order to buy a mansion in the town of Antibes, located near Cannes, as cheaply and as free of taxes as possible.

Mehmet Ali Yalçındağ, former director general of the Doğan Media Group and son-in-law of former media mogul and Doğan Holding owner Aydın Doğan, was also revealed in the leaks to be a customer of Trident Trust and the owner of three companies in the BVI that he uses to buy assets in the UK. He owns Glenview Estates Limited and Fosetta Limited, and co-owns Taltos Developments Limited with his wife Arzuhan Doğan Yalçındağ, according to Trident Trust documents.

The leaks further show that İpek Kıraç, one of the richest people in the world with a fortune of $1.6 billion according to the 2021 Forbes list, and his father İnan Kıraç also have two companies named Key Square Capital Partners Ltd and Key Square Capital Partners II Ltd in the BVI, established by Morgan & Morgan Trust, Fidinam and Alcogal. Key Square Capital Partners II Ltd, which was founded in 2011, was closed in 2017, while Key Square Capital Partners Ltd, founded in 2009, is still active, DW said.

Reha Muhtar, a famous anchorman and columnist in Turkey, was also revealed to be the owner of an offshore company named Black’s Group Holdings Limited, founded by Trident Trust.

According to DW, Ali Ahmet Kocabıyık, chairman of Borusan Holding, an industrial group headquartered in Istanbul, and his ex-wife Ayşe Zeynep Kocabıyık have four companies, MIT Properties, Sutton Properties International Inc, Chelsea Properties International Inc and Toro Properties Ltd, while his sister and vice chairperson of the holding, Zeynep Hamedi, owns Turbest Enterprises Limited in the BVI.

Kibar Holding executive board member Aysun Kibar, who spoke to DW, confirmed that she has a company named Dataline Corporation in the Seychelles and that it was only used to buy a house in London.

Having secret offshore assets is not illegal in Turkey as in many parts of the world. Still, experts say a complex network of secret companies to move assets around can be a way to hide illegal profits.

According to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), which published the Pandora Papers, an estimated $5.6 trillion to $32 trillion is hidden offshore.

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