Pro-gov’t media mogul Demirören identified in Pandora Papers

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Revna Demirören, the wife of the owner of Demirören Holding, which owns Turkey’s largest media group and supports Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, bought real estate worth nearly 2.9 million pounds in London through offshore companies, Deutsche Welle’s Turkish Service reported, citing the Pandora Papers, a massive document leak revealed by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).

According to DW Türkçe, Destination Ventures Limited and Forgen International Limited were established for Revna Demirören by Trident Trust, a global corporate and fund administrator.

According to the documents cited by DW, Destination Ventures Limited was founded in 2010 to acquire real estate in London. As of 2021, the company owns two houses near Chelsea Bridge valued at 755,000 and 320,000 pounds.

Through Forgen International Limited, which was founded in 2009, Demirören paid 1.85 million pounds for an apartment that she sold in 2014 for 2.65 million pounds.

In 2018 Demirören Holding, owned by Yıldırım Demirören, paid $916 million for the Hürriyet newspaper, broadcaster CNN Türk and other assets from Doğan Holding. The deal shifted the mainstream media overwhelmingly behind Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP).

The ruling AKP government, which has taken over or closed down hundreds of media outlets in the country, including Turkey’s best-selling newspaper, Zaman, and has jailed around 200 journalists due to their critical views since a failed coup in 2016, is criticized for silencing the free press in the country.

According to a report by Reuters, Demirören is in talks with the state-owned Ziraat Bank to restructure $800 million, the amount of debt it took on to finance purchases in the media sector. His companies are also in talks with eight or nine banks to structure debt totaling $1.2 billion that assumed to acquire the national lottery and energy ventures, the report said.

Having secret offshore assets is not illegal in Turkey as in many parts of the world. Still, experts say a complex network of secret companies to move around assets can be a way to hide illegal profits.

According to the ICIJ, which published the Pandora Papers, an estimated $5.6 trillion to $32 trillion is hidden offshore.

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