London court says Turkish trustees have no claim on businessman’s UK asset

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Businessman Akın İpek

London’s high court found Turkey had no rights over British assets that are part of the Koza İpek media and mining conglomerate, in a victory for exiled Turkish businessman Akın İpek, whose businesses have been seized by the state in Turkey, Reuters reported on Thursday.

Turkish authorities have taken control of hundreds of companies, including İstanbul-listed gold mining company Koza Altın, which was placed in receivership in October 2015, for alleged links to Turkish-Islamic cleric Fethullah Gülen.

The Turkish government has been waging an all-out war against the Gülen movement, inspired by the views of Gülen, since the outbreak of a corruption scandal in late 2013. The government’s crackdown on the movement reached new heights with a failed coup attempt on July 15 as the government held the movement responsible for the coup attempt.

Gülen has denied accusations he played a role in the attempted coup and said he condemned it in the strongest terms.

Following the court judgment handed down on Wednesday, London-based İpek, said in an email to Reuters he was “very happy to see justice.”

“There have been many crazy slanders and accusations about me and my companies. The latest court decision in the UK is one fruit of an honestly lived life,” he said.

A spokesman for Koza Altın’s trustees said Wednesday’s judgment was only interim, they were confident of their case and they anticipated further legal action.

They are seeking the removal of İpek as a director of Koza Ltd, a British subsidiary set up in March 2014, and to prevent him from deciding what to do with some 60 million pounds ($73.77 million) of shareholders’ capital held by Koza Ltd.

Court documents seen by Reuters showed a judge in the Chancery Division of the High Court of Justice found Turkish trustees had no authority over British-based assets. Turkish officials were not immediately available to comment.

The judge also ruled that the approximately 60 million pounds could be transferred to accounts managed by Hanson Asset Management, which could allow the British subsidiary to get a higher return on its capital.

Hanson Asset Management was not available for comment.

İpek’s family business İpek Holding has a 25 percent stake in Koza Altın.

The share price of Koza Altın, which counts the Vanguard Group and Schroeder Investment management among its shareholders according to Reuters data, has been volatile as political events have unfolded.

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