Turkey’s Trade Ministry launches probe into 11 companies over fraudulent Ponzi scheme
Hacer Boyacıoğlu - İSTANBUL
A Ponzi scheme is a fraudulent investment operation where revenue paid by new investors generates returns for older investors, rather than from legitimate business activities or profit from financial trading.
Speaking to a group of journalists after a visit to Qatar, Customs and Trade Minister Bülent Tüfenkci reminded the public of ongoing investigations into Çiftlik Bank, which recruited members by promising high profits.
Two investigations into Çiftlik Bank have been concluded while a third is still underway, Tüfenkçi said on Jan. 18.
“Advertisements from Çiftlik Bank have been banned. Following our move, banks have started to act more cautiously. There are eleven other companies engaged in practices similar to that of Çiftlik Bank. We are investigating them as well,” Tüfenkci said.
Tüfenkçi has also warned the public against organizations that do not trade in real goods. “Their business models are based on the Ponzi scheme. They lure people into a system they have created by promising high profits but they do not buy or sell any tangible goods. Eventually, at some point they say they are unable to make further payments,” the minister said.
The companies under investigation are headquartered in different cities, including İzmir and Konya, according to Tüfenkci.
The companies the ministry is investigating include Birlik Beraberlik Tarım Hayvancılık İthalat İhracat Sanayi ve Ticaret Anonim Şirketi, Ekolium Bilişim Yazılım Tarım Hayvancılık Otomotiv Turizm Gıda Lokantacılık Sanayi Ticaret Anonim Şirketi, Ukash İnternet Hizmetleri Limited Şirketi, Skp Teknoloji Sanal Market Gıda Sanayi ve Ticaret Limited Şirketi, Cashçiftlik, Maden.im, Elit Çiftlik, Çiftlikshop, Çiftlikmania, Bizim Tavuklar, Çılgın Tavuklar.
An investigation regarding those companies was launched on Dec.18, 2017 and eleven investigators are working on the case.
Birlik Beraberlik Tarım Hayvancılık İthalat İhracat Sanayi ve Ticaret Anonim Şirketi, one of the companies under investigation, collects members by promising “halal” profits between 1,000 liras and 10,000 liras per month. Ekolium Bilişim Yazılım Firması, apparently based in Kayseri, claims its members make 2,253 liras a month by investing 10,000 liras. Another firm, Maden.im collects money from members through an online mining game. The company claims that the more new players the existing users bring in, the more money they can make. Northern Cyprus-based Elit Çiftlik is said to have 46,609 members.