Top tycoon, banker face prison terms over fuel smuggling
by Daily Sabah
ISTANBULMar 18, 2016 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Daily Sabah
Mar 18, 2016 12:00 am
Renowned businessman Aydın Doğan together with Ersin Özince, chairman of the board of Turkey's İşbank, are accused of large-scale fuel smuggling, with prosecutors asking for up to 25 years in prison, reported state-run Anadolu Agency (AA).
The accusations stem from a smuggling scheme involving Petrol Ofisi, the state-run fuel distributor privatized in 2000 and purchased by Aydın Doğan's Doğan Holding in 2000, before the conglomerate sold the shares to an Austrian petroleum company in 2010.
Prosecutors sent an indictment to an Istanbul court for approval yesterday for Doğan and 47 other suspects, including Doğan's daughter, Hanzade Doğan Boyner, and former senior executives of his company Doğan Holding, for the alleged smuggling between 2001 and 2008. Suspects are accused of violating anti-smuggling laws, forging official documents and running a criminal organization.
Charges against Özince, who stepped down as general manager of İşbank, one of the biggest lenders in the country, before he was appointed as chairman of the board in 2011, stem from İşbank's partnership with Doğan as a stakeholder in Petrol Ofisi.
The prosecutor's office in Istanbul, where Doğan Holding's headquarters are located, asked for a minimum prison term of eight-and-a-half years for the defendants and prison terms of up to 25 years on separate charges.
Doğan and several other suspects testified to prosecutors last year during the course of the investigation.
The Sabah newspaper claimed that the smuggling charges were related to a tax evasion case and that Doğan Holding set up two front companies in the United Kingdom for the transfer of Russian crude oil in order to evade higher taxes.
Aydın Doğan, a media magnate and honorary president of the Doğan Media Group, which owns several newspapers and TV stations, was already facing accusations of corruption in property development and defamation of the government. Doğan owns a historic hotel in Istanbul, and is accused of attempts to destroy more than 1,000 trees on the land where the hotel is located to build a shopping mall with the aid of academics - on the bankroll of Doğan, according to some media outlets - who drafted an expert report to defend him against a lawsuit, arguing the trees are not under preservation and could therefore be cut down.