Assets of controversial Turkish group frozen

A court in Istanbul has frozen the assets of controversial businessman Cem Uzan and his brother as part of an investigation into a bank they owned that was seized by the state last month.

    A charismatic busineman, Uzan is no stranger to controversy

    The court ruling – the third such injunction against the Uzans – covered a total of 119 people and companies controlled by the family, according to the Turkish press.

    The injunction was requested by a fund run by the banking watchdog, which last month took over Imar Bank – the Uzan's flagship bank – on the grounds that its activities posed a threat to the banking system.

    The Uzans have denounced the ongoing legal battle against them as a move to eliminate Cem Uzan's Youth Party – which opinion polls say is running in second place after the ruling party.

    Earlier this week, police raided more than 80 companies controlled by the Uzans and seized documents to determine assets owned by those businesses.

    Among them was Telsim, the country's second largest mobile phone operator, which is also under investigation by the state telecommunications board for changes in management and transfer of shares to a sister company.

    The Turkish government sees the
    Uzan family as a political threat

    Cem Uzan and his brother, Hakan, announced on Thursday they had resigned from the company's board and the press reported on Friday that more than 50 percent of Telsim's shares had been transferred to Standart Telecommunications, which is also owned by the Uzans.

    The telecommunications board said on Thursday it was looking into both matters to see if they were legal.

    If the board sees any fault, the Uzans could face a heavy fine or see Telsim's operating licence revoked, according to the press.

    The Uzans are no strangers to controversy and have faced countless legal battles both at home and abroad.

    In June the Turkish government took control of two of the Uzans' power utilities on the grounds that they had failed to obey regulations.

    In early July, the authorities seized Imar Bank and shortly afterwards replaced the management of the Uznas' second bank, Adabank.

    As a result, the Uzans have been banned from travelling abroad and the prime minister has taken them to court for slandering him over the seizures.

    On 31 July a US court ordered the Uzans to pay Motorola, their cell phone partner, $4.26 billion, ruling that the family "perpetrated huge fraud".

    Last week Turkey's privatisation board cancelled the sell-off of state-run petrochemicals firm Petkim after the Uzans, who had won the tender, failed to pay an initial instalment.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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