Mob boss exposes gov’t figures involved in extortion of businessmen over Gülen links

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Sedat Peker, a well-known Turkish mob boss, has exposed individuals affiliated with Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) who are allegedly part of an extortion ring that has been taking over the assets of businessmen under pressure and threat, Turkish media reported on Monday.

Once a staunch supporter of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Peker has since early May been making shocking revelations about state-mafia relations, drug trafficking and murders implicating state officials and their family members.

The mafia boss on Monday said Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu, his brother Mehmet Soylu and EKBA Holding CEO Cihan Ekşioğlu, who was alleged to be an intermediary between the AKP government and mafia groups in Turkey and abroad, were among those who extorted businessmen’s assets.

According to Peker, an extortion ring including the Soylu brothers and Ekşioğlu had been filing terrorist accusations against wealthy businessmen through the Presidential Communications Center (CİMER), thereby causing the launch of bogus terrorism investigations into them.

The ring would then threaten the businessmen, saying the charges against them wouldn’t be dropped until they handed over their money and valuable assets.

“You seized the assets of many honorable people. If surveillance camera footage and Historical Traffic Search (HTS) recordings of the last six months from Akmerkez [a shopping mall in İstanbul] are analyzed, it will expose which businessmen’s assets you took over using the excuse of FETÖ,” Peker said.

“FETÖ” is a derogatory term coined by the Turkish government to refer to Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen’s faith-based Gülen movement as a terrorist organization.

The government accuses the group of masterminding an abortive putsch in 2016 and has since jailed some 96,000 people while investigating 622,646 over alleged links to the movement as part of a massive purge launched under the pretext of an anti-coup fight, although both Gülen and the movement strongly deny the charges.

Peker claimed that Ekşioğlu, whom he referred to as Soylu’s “secret safe,” took over Victoria Gardens shopping mall in Ukraine in collaboration with then-suspected FETÖ member Burak Başlılar, after pressuring its owner, Aytaç Ocaklı, by way of a report they forced the pro-government Sabah daily publish saying that Ocaklı had helped a Gülen follower flee abroad.

“Ocaklı handed the mall over to Burak Başlılar since he was a friend. But you sold it and split the $66 million you [unlawfully] made. This was your first [illegal] gain from the FETÖ market,” Peker said, referring to the extortion ring that is alleged to have slandered people to take over their assets.

The crime boss also claimed that Ekşioğlu paid a bribe of $3 million to a prosecutor named Mesut Erdinç Bayhan in İstanbul to drop terror-related charges against Başlılar.

Peker further claimed that Ekşioğlu bought a device from the Israelis that analyzes social media platforms for $3 million and sold it to the Turkish government for $50 million.

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