Court rejects Koza Altın's FETÖ-linked ex-owner Ipek's bid to regain shares

DAILY SABAH WITH AFP
ISTANBUL
Published 14.07.2018 11:38
Updated 14.07.2018 11:58

A Turkish court has ruled that a share purchase agreement made by businessman Akın Ipek this week, which was submitted as vital evidence in support of his case against the Turkish state, is null and void.

The matter was brought to the Ankara Commercial Court in March 2017 by Koza Holding (the parent company of Koza Altın) which, according to Ipek's share purchase agreement, purportedly transferred all of its shares to Ipek Investment Limited. Koza Holding filed the lawsuit for legal recognition that the share purchase agreement is void.

Koza Holding and its former owner Ipek were among the main financial backers of the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) prior to the holding's seizure by court order in Oct. 2015. The holding was administered by court-appointed trustees until it was transferred to the Savings Deposit Insurance Fund (TMSF).

Ipek, sought by Turkish authorities over his links to the FETÖ, left Turkey prior to the operation and currently resides in London.

The ruling in Turkey follows on from an earlier judgment set down by the English High Court, which rejected Ipek's attempt to use up to 3 million pounds of U.K. subsidiary Koza Ltd's money to fund a claim against the Turkish state at the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID).

In the English ruling, Deputy Judge Richard Spearman QC declared the "authenticity" of the share purchase agreement as "open to very serious doubt." The finding followed arguments in court from Koza Altın (Gold) that the document had all the hallmarks of a forgery.

Judge Spearman also found that, even if the share purchase agreement was found to be genuine, there was an "essential artificiality" to the transaction which would not qualify it as an international investment for the purposes of an ICSID arbitration - expressing doubt that Ipek's proposed international arbitration would succeed, even if he were granted funding.

As a consequence, the Judge found an ICSID tribunal would likely dismiss any such claim on the basis that it would have no jurisdiction to hear it. Despite this ruling, Ipek filed a claim with the ICSID in March 2018.

In July 2018, the English High Court also blocked Ipek's attempt to use Koza Ltd to fund his attempts to resist extradition to Turkey, where he faces criminal charges.

Koza Ltd is a U.K. based private company which is wholly-owned by Koza Altın, a publicly-listed company in Ankara. Koza Altın has initiated a process to remove Hamdi Akın Ipek from the Board of Koza Ltd.

Ipek is resisting his removal in the English courts, and the issue is the subject of ongoing litigation. That litigation is separate from Ipek's ICSID action, and from his attempt to fight extradition from the U.K.

In the litigation before the English and Turkish courts, Koza Altın's case is that Ipek and Koza Ltd are seeking to prevent Koza Altın from exercising its rights as shareholder of Koza Ltd. Koza Altın is seeking the removal of Ipek as a director of Koza Ltd in order to protect Koza Altın and its assets, during the course of a criminal investigation into Ipek, for the benefit of its shareholders and in accordance with its regulatory obligations. Specifically, the company is taking action to ensure that the shareholders' capital originally amounting to £60 million and held by Koza Ltd cannot be improperly taken out of the company and used for Ipek's personal interests.

This is a matter of sensible corporate governance, and is taken for the benefit of all of Koza Altın's shareholders - including funds, banks and other Turkish and international investors who directly own 30 percent of Koza Altın and indirectly own a majority of around 58 percent.

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