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Turkey on way to creating Russian-like business oligarchy, economist says

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“We are seeing a terrible plunder like the one that created the Russian oligarchs,” Seyfettin Gürsel, a columnist and a professor of economics, has said in reference to Turkey’s ever-expanding crackdown against secular and dissenting business groups.

Only this time it’s private assets, not state assets, that will be transferred to businessmen close to the government, Gürsel told Bloomberg on Sunday, adding that it there is no economic logic to it.

The Turkish government pinned the blame for a July 15 coup attempt on the Gülen movement, dealing a huge blow to the private sector. A total of 527 companies have been transferred to the state-run Savings Deposit Insurance Fund (TMSF), while the assets of dozens of businessmen have been confiscated since then.

According to a TMSF official, the value of seized assets is around $10 billion. But Akın İpek, CEO of Koza-İpek Holding until its confiscation by the government, said 18 of the group’s confiscated companies alone were worth over $10 billion.

However, Bloomberg’s article, titled “Erdogan Purge Creates $10 Billion Bazaar for Would-Be Oligarchs,” claimed the government’s crackdown in the economy is not limited to only those seized over true or alleged links to the movement.

Many of the country’s richest men, not knowing whose assets may be targeted next, are either hunkering down, traveling abroad or going out of their way to show loyalty, said the article, adding:

“Aydin Dogan, a secularist billionaire, has already tamed the coverage at his vast media holdings, which include the Hurriyet daily and CNN-Turk channel, to avoid being closed or seized like more than 130 other outlets. He’s also started sponsoring anti-Islamophobia conferences in Europe and the U.S.

The wireless giant founded by communications tycoon Mehmet Emin Karamehmet, Turkcell Iletisim Hizmetleri AS, was once a cultural icon for westernized youth for its wildly popular “Free Girl” ad campaign that cheered individualism. Now he’s promoting Islamic education by funding students involved with the Ensar Foundation.

And Ferit Sahenk, the billionaire chairman of Dogus Holding, was last seen in public almost a month ago, at the opening of the Islamic education faculty at Recep Tayyip Erdogan University, which he paid about $20 million to build in the president’s hometown of Rize in the northeast.”

Fleeing the country after his conviction for inciting murder, Galip Öztürk, the owner of the bus chain Metro Holding, is also among the businessmen who have become devoted loyalists to the government and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Öztürk told Bloomberg that the post-putsch purge is part of a long-needed reshuffling of wealth and power that will tilt the balance away from “White Turks,” as the urban Republican elite are known, and toward “Anatolian Lions” like himself.


Öztürk saw the shares of his $100 million holding almost double after he announced to have bid for the acquisition of Koza-İpek Holding, worth more than $10 billion.


“I will not buy anything without Tayyip Bey being informed about it,” Öztürk further said.


Recently granted a retrial, Öztürk said he is confident in the legal system since Erdoğan cleansed the judiciary of the movement. Öztürk said his case was a plot by the movement.

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