Former Sun Group Chairman and newly appointed head of Turkish State Railways (TCDD) Murat Atik has stepped down over alleged links to a notorious cult led by Adnan Oktar.
Atik was appointed to the post ten days ago after his predecessor, Ali İhsan Uygun, was dismissed by a presidential decree. He was forced to resign, however, after the daily Cumhuriyet revealed his links to the cult and a sexual abuse case launched into the group.
Oktar is a religious creationist and cult leader who in 2018 was arrested on several charges, ranging from having sex with minors and kidnapping children to torture and money laundering. Earlier this year, he was sentenced to 1,075 years in prison.
Oktar had a wide network of collaborators and participants. He was arrested in 2018 alongside 168 associates who allegedly supported the nefarious activities of his cult and organization. According to reporting by Barış Terkoğlu of Cumhuriyet, former TCDD President Atik was one of them.
In 1999, one of the addresses raided by police in connection with an investigation into Oktar belonged to a company called Atik Construction, run by Murat Atik. At that time, Atik was a follower of Oktar and was under investigation by authorities. However, according to Terkoğlu, he managed to escape and avoid scrutiny.
This is not the only scandal that has plagued Atik in recent weeks. Prior to his appointment as TCDD President last week, Atik was the chair of Sun Group, a Japan-based company that was granted Turkey’s first private rail tender. The tender - valued at 40 million Euros - was signed in April 2021. Atik’s appointment was seen as a push by the government to rapidly privatize Turkish State Railways.
Metin Akbaş, Deputy General Manager of TCDD, took over for Atik. TCDD and the Transportation Ministry have yet to make a statement at this time.