Asset freeze on seven businessmen in second graft probe lifted upon prosecutors request

Asset freeze on seven businessmen in second graft probe lifted upon prosecutors request

ISTANBUL - Doğan News Agency
Asset freeze on seven businessmen in second graft probe lifted upon prosecutors request

The asset freezes were issued following the request of prosecutor Muammer Akkaş (in the picture) , who has ultimately been removed from the case

A court lifted late Jan. 13 an asset freeze on seven prominent businessmen and two companies, ordered last month as part of a second graft probe, upon the prosecutor’s request. 

The investigation surfaced in controversial fashion after the prosecutor in charge publically announced via a press statement that he had been removed from the case while revealing that his arrest orders were not carried out by security forces despite court warrants.

The prosecutors who took over the case said that the asset freeze decision was taken too hastily without the examination of some investigation files and lacked legal ground. “The decision to freeze the assets was taken in just half an hour without looking into the suspects’ connection with the charges,” the prosecutors said in their request, adding that sacks containing a total of 32 folders had remained sealed. “The asset freeze decision on the suspects has been lifted in order to avoid irreparable damages in the future,” the prosecutors said.

The seven suspects included Orhan Cemal Kalyoncu and Ömer Faruk Kalyoncu board chairman and deputy chairman of Kalyon respectively, a construction company part of a consortium which has won the lucrative contract to build Istanbul’s third airport. Mehmet Cengiz, owner of Cengiz inşaat, another company included in the five-firm consortium, was also among the names on the list.

The other four names were: owner of the BIM discount retailer Mustafa Latif Topbaş, partner of the Batı Hattı A.Ş and multifaceted businessman Abdullah Tivnikli, owner of the financial consultancy group Bosphorus 360 Cengiz Aktürk, and the Egyptian businessman Osama Qutb, who is known for being the right hand man of the controversial Saudi trader Yasin al-Qadi, accused of financing terrorism.

According to documents obtained by news wires on the second graft case, the suspects were charged with “founding a criminal organization,” “bribery and influence peddling,” “tender fraud,” “forgery in official documents,” “clearing assets acquired through criminal activity” and “threats.”

The first investigation with raids conducted on Dec. 17 has taken its toll on the government which is facing massive allegations, with the sons of two ex-ministers and the director of the state-owned Halkbank still remaining in custody.

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) accuse the movement of the Islamic Scholar Fethullah Gülen, which holds key positions on the police and judiciary, of orchestrating the massive probes. The government responded with massive purges that were carried out within the ranks of the police and moved towards the adoption of a controversial bill that would increase its powers over the judiciary.