Guns, lies and fake bank in 400 million exports fraud story
ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily News
This photo shows alleged members of the export fraud network being taken into custody on April 30. DHA photoThe events of recent days read like a suspense novel, with the arrest of 22 out of 150 suspects detained as part of an investigation into the largest tax scam network of exported goods discovered in recent years.
Yesterday, it was uncovered that the network allegedly obtained hundreds of millions of Turkish Liras by forming a fictitious bank to back letters of guarantee shown to customs officials.
Role of PKK
Now, added to the mix it has also emerged that customs controllers sent to investigate the claims back in 2010 were allegedly traced by members of the outlawed Kurdish Workers Party, according to reports both by daily Hürriyet and the Anatolia news agency.
Some 150 people were taken into custody in operations conducted mainly in Ankara, Istanbul and the southeastern province of Hakkari.
It is estimated that as a result of the 400 million liras worth of illegal activities conducted by the fictitious export ring, the public sector lost 50 million liras. The gang has also unfairly gained some 23 million liras of VAT drawback.
Members of the network would apparently pretend to be bank agents when customs officials called a fictitious bank to verify the letters of guarantee, Hurriyet.com.tr reported, adding that most of the exports consisted of textile materials.
A team of customs controllers sent to the Hakkari customs gate in eastern Turkey in 2010 to investigate claims of the fictitious export ring were traced by members of the PKK, according to the Anatolia news agency. The customs controllers were protected by armored vehicles and special gendarmerie teams, the report said.
It is estimated that the fraud lies behind the recent exports boom in the province. Other exporters in Hakkari and its Yüksekova town are currently under inspection.
Following their investigation, the customs controllers prepared a report which said that 45 different firms had conducted export fraud totaling up to 400 million liras at the Halkalı, Ambarlı and Esendere customs gates in Istanbul. According to information obtained from the Customs and Trade Ministry by the Anatolia news agency, the investigation began in 2010 at the request of Customs and Trade Minister Hayati Yazıcı.
According to the Anatolia news agency, ringleader Y.H. organized the fraudulent activities from his base in Ankara. The police raids was conducted by the Ankara Police Department in 20 provinces on April 30, with some 22 people arrested.