Neşe İdil / Duvar English
Turkish mafia leader Sedat Peker has claimed that Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu told shady business tycoon Sezgin Baran Korkmaz, currently sought by Turkish authorities over money laundering, to flee Turkey to avoid prosecution.
Peker, in his ninth video released on YouTube that's filled with accusations against Turkish authorities on June 6, said that Korkmaz and Soylu had a meeting in the interior ministry and that's where the businessman was tipped off about a probe launched into him.
According to Peker, Resul Holoğlu, a deputy police chief in charge of organized crime, called Korkmaz on Dec. 4, 2020 and invited him to the interior ministry. The meeting lasted for two hours, Peker said.
Peker claimed that a money transaction worth $45 million between Korkmaz and a businessman was on the table during the meeting, saying that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan knows about the issue.
The said money transaction concerns Korkmaz's September 2020 purchase of Luxembourg-based Silcolux, of which 45 percent of shares are owned by businessman İnan Kıraç's Kıraça Holding, investigative journalist Bahadır Özgür, who has been following the issue closely, told Duvar English. Korkmaz purchased the company for $82 million.
Through this purchase, Korkmaz ended up owning 45 percent of Kıraça Holding's shares and another 28.5 percent of Karsan Automotive, which is under Kıraça Holding.
Perhaps the most significant aspect of Karsan Automotive is it being a partner in Turkey's Automobile Initiative Group (TOGG), the designer of Turkey's first indigenous car - one of Erdoğan's ambitious projects. Korkmaz, through purchasing Silcolux, became a partner of the government's most high-profile projects.
Upon a money laundering investigation into Korkmaz in September, Kıraç asked the shady businessman to return the shares, but offered half the amount of the original, Özgür said, adding that Korkmaz refused.
Kıraç reportedly then asked the presidency to help conclude the return of the shares and Soylu pressured Korkmaz to reach a deal as a result.
The mafia leader said that Soylu told Korkmaz to accept the amount Kıraç offered, which was $45 million less than the original.
"Soylu told Korkmaz, 'An investigation was carried out into you. Go abroad. Forget about that money. The higher authority knows about this, there will be trouble,'" Peker said, adding that the authority in question is Erdoğan.
Peker said that Korkmaz fled Turkey the next day, on Dec. 5, 2020, as a result. Korkmaz returned the shares on Feb. 24 without receiving the $45 million.
Defrauding the U.S. of at least $500 million
Turkish prosecutors in December of last year issued a detention warrant for Korkmaz as part of a probe into money laundering worth $132 million.
The cash in question is believed to be a part of a decade-long scheme to defraud the U.S. of at least $500 million involving Utah-based business executives Jacob Kingston and his brother Isaiah, as well as Armenian-Turkish businessman Lev Aslan Dermen.
Peker on June 6 called on the authorities to check security footage to see whether Korkmaz visited the interior ministry before fleeing.
"Korkmaz realized that all of his money will be seized and decided not to return," Peker said.
Peker, a pan-Turkist and Turanist organized crime boss who fled Turkey in early 2020 to avoid prosecution, has been releasing videos for the past month that include serious allegations, including murders, against current and former politicians in a bid to take revenge for the operations launched into his organization.
Although mostly infuriated due to being sidelined, Peker, an ally-turned-foe of the government, repeatedly says he releases the videos as a reaction against police officers raiding his house and pointing guns towards his wife and little daughters.
Peker's claims against current and former politicians, with the main ones being former minister Mehmet Ağar and Soylu, have been shaking Turkey, but the government's response to the accusations has been weak so far.
In the videos watched by millions of people, Peker repeatedly says that he supported the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and more specifically Soylu in order for them to obtain political gains. He also says that he was promised a return to Turkey in April and that he was betrayed by Soylu.
Peker claims AKP deputy asked him not to release video before Biden-Erdoğan meeting
In his ninth video, Peker also claimed that AKP deputy Metin Külünk, who is at the center of controversy due to allegations of him receiving $10,000 a month from the mafia boss, called him and asked him not to release a video before Erdoğan's meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden set to be held on June 14.
Peker also responded to the claims of giving $10,000 a month to Külünk, saying that he gave much more than the said amount.
The debate on a politician receiving money from Peker was triggered after Soylu last month revealed the issue without giving the individual's name. Soylu, among other government officials, has been silent in the face of the opposition's questions on who has been receiving money from the mafia boss.
Külünk is also accused of asking Peker to beat up former AKP deputy Feyzi İşbaşaran while he was detained in 2014.
'Demirören Holding didn't pay his bank loan back'
Another allegation in Peker's video concerned pro-government Demirören Holding, which purchased the media assets of Doğan Group in 2018.
Peker previously said that his organization carried out an attack on the building of the daily Hürriyet in 2015 upon an AKP deputy's request in order to make then-owner Aydın Doğan sell his assets. The mafia boss claimed that the attack was crucial in Doğan's decision to leave the media scene.
Reports at the time of the purchase said that Demirören Holding, headed by Yıldırım Demirören, received a loan worth $750 million from state-owned Ziraat Bank. Peker said that it was never paid back.
"He received that $750 million from Ziraat Bank, but he neither paid the principal amount nor the interest back," Peker said.