President Erdoğan justifies appointment of a board of trustees to Koza-İpek group

President Erdoğan justifies appointment of a board of trustees to Koza-İpek group

President Erdoğan justifies appointment of a board of trustees to Koza-İpek group

Tarık Toros, director general of Bugün TV who had been removed from his post by the trustee panel on Oct. 28, delivers a speech outside its headquarters in Istanbul during a protest against the Turkish government's crackdown on media outlets on October 27, 2015. AFP Photo

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has seemingly justified the appointment of a trustee board to manage the Koza-İpek group, 23 companies of which have been seized by a local court as part of a crackdown on followers of the government’s ally-turned-nemesis Fethullah Gülen.

“There are different things behind the support lent [to the group],” Erdoğan said late on Oct. 28. “The reason for appointment of a trustee should be thoroughly deliberated because its number one is on the run,” he said in a live interview with Kanal 24 news channel.

As Akın İpek, CEO of the Koza-İpek group, suggested there was no irregular transfer of money abroad, Erdoğan asked why he was on the run. 

“I hope the Turkish judiciary will have a fair decision,” he said, adding that his office had some information on the issue, but the judiciary had their own information. 

Riot police firing tear gas and water cannons stormed two opposition-linked Turkish television stations and forced them off the air on Oct. 28.

Police in riot helmets were acting on a controversial court ruling ordering the seizure of companies belonging to the Koza-İpek conglomerate linked to former preacher Gülen, who is now in a self-imposed exile in the U.S.                        

An Ankara court on Oct. 26 appointed a board of trustees to manage the Koza-Ipek group, seizing its 23 companies as part of a crackdown on Gülen followers.

The Ankara chief prosecutor’s office said the seizure was linked to an investigation into the conglomerate on suspicion of “terror financing,” “terror propaganda” and other offences related to Koza-Ipek’s support for Gülen’s Hizmet (Service) movement.

Koza-İpek CEO Akin İpek denounced the move as “politically motivated,” saying the government had failed to find any illegal activity during inspections of the company, which businesses range from media to mining, insurance to healthcare and tourism to food.

Turkish authorities have launched a “terrorism” probe into the 74-year-old cleric, a one-time Erdoğan ally now regarded as his arch-nemesis, and his followers.

Erdoğan accuses Gülen of operating a “state within a state” in Turkey and trying to topple him by persuading allies in the police and judiciary to launch a vast probe into government corruption in December 2013.