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Turkey-based company hit by US sanctions denies aiding Hamas

US Treasury Department

The seal of the US Treasury Department in Washington, DC, on April 2, 2022. (Photo by Stefani Reynolds / AFP)

A Turkey-based company hit by new US sanctions on Friday due to its alleged links to the Palestinian militant group Hamas has denied claims of providing financial support to the group, Euronews Turkish edition reported.

The US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced in a statement on Oct. 27 that it had imposed the second round of sanctions on key Hamas-linked officials and financial networks following an unprecedented attack by Hamas militants on Israel on Oct. 7 that claimed at least 1,400 lives. The Hamas attack sparked retaliatory strikes from Israel on Gaza, which have led to the death of more than 8,000 civilians so far while leading to widespread destruction in the enclave.

According to the US Treasury, three primary shareholders of the Turkey-based Trend GYO, designated in May 2022 as part of Hamas’s investment portfolio, are among those hit by the sanctions. They are all based in Turkey and identified as Alaeddin Şengüler, Gülşah Yiğidoğlu and Arwa Mangoush.

Trend GYO is a key component of Hamas’s global asset holdings, which had previously been estimated to be worth over $500 million, according to the statement.

The company issued a statement on Monday and denied providing financial support to any militant organization.

The statement, which was also made on behalf of the three primary shareholders, said Trend GYO is a foreign capital real estate investment firm, acts in accordance with Turkish law and is regularly inspected by Turkish financial authorities.

It said the company acts with transparency in all of its financial transactions and documents everything it spends, adding that it is out of the question to financially support any militant organization under Turkey’s laws.

In its statement, OFAC designated Şengüler, Yiğidoğlu and Mangoush, pursuant to E.O. 13224, as amended, for having materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services in support of, Hamas.

According to the new sanctions, all property and interests in property of the designated persons that are in the United States or in the possession or control of US persons are blocked and must be reported to OFAC. In addition, any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, individually or in the aggregate, 50 percent or more by one or more blocked persons are also blocked. Unless authorized by a general or specific license issued by OFAC, or exempt, OFAC’s regulations generally prohibit all transactions by US persons or within (or transiting) the United States that involve any property or interests in property of designated or otherwise blocked persons.

In addition, financial institutions and other persons that engage in certain transactions or activities with sanctioned entities and individuals may expose themselves to sanctions or be subject to an enforcement action. The prohibitions include the making of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services by, to, or for the benefit of any designated person, or the receipt of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services from any such person.

The US Department of the Treasury on Oct. 18 imposed the first round of sanctions on 10 key Hamas members, operatives and financial facilitators, some of whom are based in Turkey as well as in Gaza, Sudan, Algeria and Qatar.

Amer Kamal Sharif Alshawa and Ahmed Sadu Jahleb are part of Hamas’s investment network in Turkey who were hit by these sanctions.

Alshawa was mentioned as the chief executive officer of Trend GYO who has served as a board member on several Hamas investment portfolio companies, while Jahleb serves as the Hamas investment portfolio secretary and coordinates various activities for Hamas-controlled companies and Hamas officials.

Trend GYO, which is traded on the Borsa İstanbul stock exchange, issued a statement following reports in Turkish media outlets about its links to Hamas following the announcement of the first round of US sanctions and said Alshawa had parted ways with the company in 2019 and is no longer its chief executive officer.

Relations between Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and Hamas have once again come under the spotlight following the Oct. 7 attacks by Hamas.

Turkey does not recognize Hamas as a terrorist organization. Justice and Development Party (AKP) leader and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has hosted members of Hamas many times over the years, and the country is known as a safe haven for Hamas operatives.

In a move that attracted harsh criticism from Israel and some Western capitals, Erdoğan said last week that Hamas is not a terrorist organization, describing its militants as “liberators” fighting for their land and people.

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