Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Kemal Dervis: - the political animal behind the Pamukbank confiscation

Turkish newspapers claimed yesterday that politicians were behind a highly controversial bank confiscation in 2002.

According to daily Yeni Şafak, Enis Öksüz, the then-transportation minister of the coalition government in power at the time, has stated that fraudulent operations were carried out to arrange for the takeover of the bank, which was confiscated by the state.

In 2002 Pamukbank was taken over from from Çukurova Holding, owned by Mehmet Emin Karamehmet, by the Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency (BDDK), allegedly to recoup nearly $6 billion owed by the bank.

According to Yeni Şafak, Öksüz said the issue of Pamukbank was not raised even once during Cabinet meetings of the government at the time. “There was no talk of it. They silently destroyed those guys,” he said. Öksüz told the daily that then-Deputy Prime Minister Mesut Yılmaz, then-Economy Minister Kemal Derviş and Hüsamettin Özkan, who was the state minister for state banks, had arranged for the tragic end of Pamukbank. “The three of them used to eat from the same bowl at the time,” he said.

He also alleged that some involved in the Pamukbank operation had confessed to making a mistake. “I had heard at the time that there were fraudulent operations to render a potentially solid bank completely dysfunctional. Some admitted they had made a mistake in this regard,” Yeni Şafak quotes Öksüz as saying.

Initial allegations in Ergenekon documents

Documents that might be evidence of an orchestration of the Pamukbank takeover were seized during police raids conducted as part of the investigation into Ergenekon, a shadowy network whose suspected members are accused of having planned and staged attacks and assassinations for the ultimate aim of toppling the government.

Transcripts of phone conversations found in Ergenekon archives include the record of a phone conversation between then-BDDK Deputy President Ali Vural and Veli Dural, a board member of Doğan Holding, a Çukurova rival, and also owner of the biggest media group in Turkey. The call occurred at 5:30 p.m. two days before June 18, 2002, the day the bank was taken over. The BDDK bureaucrat asks for media support to shift public opinion in favor of the takeover during the phone conversation.

The BDDK’s Vural also placed calls to an American employed at Citibank, who says, “The people I represent are not a happy about Çukurova.”

The transcripts include conversations showing that Yılmaz and head of the Doğan Media Group Aydın Doğan were also aware of the operation.

On Wednesday, former head of the BDDK Engin Akçakoca denied allegations published in the Turkish press about the Pamukbank confiscation. Records of his phone conversations were also in the seized documents.

Akçakoca said the confiscation of the bank, nearing bankruptcy, was entirely legal and legitimate. He also referred to the allegations as attempts to link the takeover to the Ergenekon gang and denied any such connection.

Meanwhile, the Hürriyet daily, the most widely circulated Doğan Group newspaper, owned by Aydın Doğan , on Wednesday denounced the stories, calling the conversations in the transcripts “false and imaginary.” The Doğan Group also opened court cases against three newspapers that dedicated space to the claims.

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