Lawyers for a small opposition party have filed a criminal complaint against officials from Turkey’s Savings Deposit Insurance Fund (TMSF) due to the fast-track sale of two logistics companies, seized due to their alleged affiliation with the Gülen movement, to a firm purportedly owned by a pro-government figure, the Kronos news website reported.
The criminal complaint was filed by the People’s Liberation Party (HKP), a left-wing populist and anti-expansionist political party.
In their official complaint the HKP lawyers argued that the auction was rigged as Port Kargo, which purchased private logistics companies Sürat Kargo and Sürat Lojistik for TL 335.5 million (around $40 million), was owned by Halil İbrahim Bacacı, a friend of Bilal Erdoğan, the son of ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) leader and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
The TMSF, to which the logistics companies in question were transferred, sold them in a fast-track auction in late July in which the value of the companies was low-balled at TL 325 million.
Before and after a failed coup in 2016, numerous private companies were transferred to TMSF due to their alleged links to the Gülen movement, which the ruling AKP and Erdoğan accuse of orchestrating the abortive putsch, although it denies any involvement.
The HKP’s lawyers maintained that Bacacı and TMSF executives rigged the bid, knowingly and willfully caused public loss and engaged in misconduct and influence peddling.
According to the complaint, Sürat Kargo’s profits for the last two years were around TL 188 million ($22 million), the third largest firm in the sector, with a value of TL 2 billion ($235 million).
“The selling of Sürat Kargo for a price considerably below its real value requires investigation and prosecution,” the complaint said.
Claiming that the public loss resulting from the rigged bid was more than TL 1 billion ($118 million), the complaint demanded that the people who organized the auction as well as those who won the contract in violation of applicable laws should be investigated under the Turkish Criminal Code.
“Why was a company valued at TL 2 billion [$235 million] sold for TL 355 million [$40 million]?” asked lawyer Doğan Erkan, a member of the Central Executive Board of the HKP, in a statement regarding the official complaint.
“We just want public prosecutors to ask this question. When they ask this question, and if they ask this question in other cases, it will be possible to crack down on this system of profiteering,” he said.
The fast-track sale of the companies for a price only slightly above the already low estimated value of TL 325 million as well as the short period allowed for submitting bids — 10 days including the Eid al-Adha holiday — had led some to question whether the bidding process was arranged.
Journalist İbrahim Kahveci from the Karar daily asked why the TMSF acted so hastily in selling Sürat Kargo while choosing to act slowly in tenders with lower estimated values, saying, “Was the buyer selected beforehand?”