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Turkish PM confirms Paradise Papers documents: nothing was a secret

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Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım on Tuesday confirmed documents concerning his family published by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) on Nov. 5, saying nothing illegal took place and that his sons have no immunity from an investigation.

According to the documents, Erkam Yıldırım and Bülent Yıldırım are the adult sons of the Turkish Prime Minister Yıldırım, whose family made its fortune in the shipping industry. The brothers are the sole shareholders of two companies registered in Malta: Hawke Bay Marine Co. Ltd., which was set up in April 2004 and according to public records owns or manages shipping vessels; and Black Eagle Marine Co. Ltd., incorporated in January 2007.

“Navigation is a global business; they [his sons] do business all over the world. This is not a hidden issue. They [media] are trying to play with the perception that there is something secret about this business,” Prime Minister Yıldırım said during a press conference at the Ankara airport before leaving for the US.

Yıldırım also said the story is not new and has been repeated since 2008: “Since I am a politician, it is exotic for them to do stories on my children’s activities. I have immunity, but my children do not. I am saying here that all kinds of investigations can be launched.”

An investigation into Binali Yıldırım’s family enterprise, part of the European Investigative Collaborations’ (EIC) Malta Files, revealed in May that his family currently possesses shipping and related assets of well over 100 million euros, according to reports on the theblacksea.eu and mediapart.fr news websites.

Yıldırım’s family enterprise consists of 11 foreign-flagged ships nested in a network of secretive companies in Malta, the Netherlands and the Netherlands Antilles — specifically now Curacao, with more suspected in the Marshall Islands and Panama. At least four of the ships are financed with huge loans from Swiss and Turkish banks, including one part-owned by the Turkish state.

The Black Sea website discovered that Yıldırım’s son, daughter, uncle and nephews have purchased seven properties in the Netherlands, worth over $2.5 million – all of which were paid for in cash.

The investigation also uncovered how the Yıldırıms used one of these Dutch companies to anonymously donate 600,000 euros to the municipality of Pendik, near İstanbul, for a lavish new mosque.

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