After a major Turkish government contractor has been exposed in the ‘Pandora Papers’ for transferring huge amounts of money to Swiss bank accounts in attempts of tax avoidance, another government-linked corporation with bubble off-shore companies has been exposed.
Çalık Holding, whose chairman is Ahmet Çalık, the 19th richest person in Turkey according to Forbes, has been reported as owning four off-shore companies not listed in its annual reports, Deutsche Welle Turkish reported.
The companies mentioned in the ‘Pandora Papers’ are Oipano Trading S.A, Textiles International Ltd, Lasarre Trading Ltd and Sonjah International Ltd, all four of which were founded in the British Virgin Islands.
The market values of the first two are $10 million and $5 million, respectively, and the ownership of Textiles International Ltd and Lasarre Trading Ltd was transferred to a Süleyman Kankul in February 2018, the office manager of Gap Marketing, a company owned by Çalık Holding.
Çalık Holding had played a leading role in the Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) move to bring the mainstream media under government control as it had bought one of Turkey’s two largest media groups, the Sabah Group, in 2007 with the help of the $750 million loan it secured from public Turkish banks.
Berat Albayrak, the son-in-law of the Turkish president Tayyip Erdoğan, served as CEO in Çalık Holding until 2013, and in 2015, was appointed by Erdoğan as the Minister of Energy and Natural Resources. He later served as the Minister of Finance and Treasury between 2018 and 2020, and was probably the most influential figure in Turkey’s fiscal and monetary policies during his term. The Turkish currency was devalued against the US Dollar roughly 66% within the two years of his service while there were rumours of vast currency speculation.
Although the Turkish Lira was in a free fall at the time, the net worth of Ahmet Çalık, Çalık Holding’s chairman, rose from 1.6 billion in 2018 to 1.9 billion in 2019, with an annual increase of almost 19%.
Dubbed the ‘Pandora Papers,’ the 12 million leaked files constitute the biggest such leak in history and they are being looked through by over 600 journalists from 117 countries under the supervision of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. There are more than 220 names from Turkey found in the papers involved in cases of tax evasion.