Abdullah Bozkurt / Stockholm
A Turkish associate of Alex Nain Saab Moran, indicted by the United States for helping the Venezuelan regime escape sanctions, was a guest at an event sponsored by the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, which tied the sanctions years of close ties with Venezuelan President Nicolás. Maduro.
According to a Nordic Monitor investigation, Veysel Altun, a Turkish businessman residing in Switzerland who helped set up several shell companies in Turkey on behalf of Saab, was found to be linked to a Turkish agency abroad. He was even hosted in Istanbul at a business event sponsored by Erdoğan’s government.
Altun has been selected, vetted and added to the list of Turkish businessmen abroad that the World Council of Turkish Businesses (DTİK) can trust, an initiative of the Turkish government launched by the Council on Foreign Economic Relations (DEİK ), which is part of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Trade. He and his relative Bünyamin Altun attended the government event in Istanbul along with other Turkish businessmen from around the world.
Altun participated in the DTIK event as managing director of the Swiss company Racolas Holding AG. The event, which was held from March 26-27, 2016, featured President Erdoğan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu as keynote speakers and the participation of 486 Turkish-led companies from 65 countries who came to Istanbul to listen to Turkish leaders, expand their business network and make deals.
Filing in the Commercial Register establishing the Turkish company Mulberry in 2015:
Erdoğan’s speech at the event resembled Maduro’s anti-Western rants, full of accusations against Western powers. He lambasted foreign diplomats in Istanbul for attending the politically charged hearing of two journalists who were on trial on false charges over a briefing on the Erdoğan government’s secret weapons deliveries to jihadists in Syria. “Who are you? What business do you have there? Diplomacy has some property and manners. It’s not your country. It’s Turkey,” remarked an angry Erdoan.
Commercial register records show that Altun, whose Swiss address was listed as Earhartstrasse 13/31 Opfıkon / Switzerland, has established several companies in Turkey, many of which list their business sites at the same address, indicating that they are were in fact shell companies for shady deals. transactions. Records also indicate that they have frequently changed addresses and that the composition of the board of directors and owners has been reshuffled, with the same names controlling operations.
Although the US indictment indicated that Istanbul-based investment and projects company Mulberry Proje Yatırım Anonim Şirketi was linked to Saab, other Turkish companies were created by Saab’s Turkish partner Altun , most likely to conduct clandestine business transactions spanning multiple countries.
According to trade, Mulberry was founded in Istanbul on May 5, 2015 by the UK company of the same name Mulberry Capital Partners Limited, with its declared address 45 Clarges, Mayfair London W 1J7EP, UK. Altun was the sole representative of the British company and conducted all business transactions with the Turkish Mulberry. Its capital was 50,000 Turkish liras ($ 19,000). Serenat Baytan Avkovan has been listed as the registrar of the company.
On December 22, 2017, Turkish national Serkan Sarıkeçe was appointed chairman of the board of Mulberry for a three-year term, replacing the UK company as sole owner. However, it was not long before a Venezuelan national named Betsy Desiree Mata Pereda was appointed chair of the board on February 16, 2018 replacing Sarıkeçe, who was appointed to the board. On February 23, 2018, Mulberry UK once again became the sole shareholder.
The commercial register showed that Turkish Mulberry changed its name to Mulberry Proje ve Dış Ticaret Anonim Şirketi, reflecting the addition of foreign trade of almost all commercial goods as its business area. The company had moved its offices four times since its inception in 2015.
Another company managed by Altun on behalf of Saab was Marilyns Proje Yatırım Anonim Şirketi, also a project and investment company, which was established on May 2, 2014 in Istanbul. At one point, the company was located at the same address as Mulberry in the Cihannüma neighborhood of Beşiktaş district, confirming that they were shell companies. Like Mulberry, the company’s start-up capital was 50,000 Turkish Lira and its owner was a UK company of the same name, Marilyns Capital Limited, located at 45 Clarges Street, London WIJ 7EP, UK. Again, Altun was the representative of British society with all powers and privileges. Sarıkeçe was the general manager. Avkovan was also involved in this business.
Filing in the Trade Register for the creation of the Turkish company Marilyns in 2014:
On July 27, 2018, the company changed its name to include mining and foreign trade in its licensed business activity and became Marilyns Dış Ticaret Ve Madencilik Anonim Şirketi. An Italian national by the name of Lorenzo Antonelli became chairman of the board. The sole owner was listed as Bünyamin Altun who appears to be a relative of Veysel Altun and who declared his address as Rietgrabenstr. 64A 8152 Opfikon, Switzerland. On March 27, 2019, Turkish national Musa Göğer was appointed to the board of directors and Antonelli’s post was terminated in accordance with a statement the company filed with the Chamber of Commerce.
The third Turkish company that appears to be connected to a network of companies created by Saab around the world to run a sanctions circumvention program on behalf of the Maduro regime is construction and project company Glenmore Probe İnşaat Anonim Şirketi, premiered May 7. 2015 by a UK company of the same name, Glenmore Solutions Limited, with the same London address as Marilyns and Mulberry.
As happened with Marilyns in July 2018, Glenmore also changed its name to Glenmore Dış Ticaret Ve Madencilik Anonim Şirketi and expanded its business portfolio to include mining and foreign trade. Another Italian national, Via Cenina, has been appointed director with full powers to represent the firm, according to company records. Bünyamin became the sole owner but was replaced by UK Glenmore in September 2018.
There were more Turkish companies owned and operated by Veysel Altun and his Turkish associates. Some of them were the tourism and construction companies Bodrum Turizm Otelcilik Ve İnşaat Anonim Şirketi and Volia İnşaat Ve Turizm Anonim Şirketi; e-commerce company Emarketler Grubu Uluslararasi Elektronik Ve Ticaret Anonim Şirketi; consultancy firm Bsb Advisory Uluslararasi Danişmanlik Anonim Şirketi; the projects and investment companies Tarjeta Proje Yatirim Anonim Şirketi and Munroe Proje Yatirim Anonim Şirketi; and the foreign trade company Kinloch Diş Ticaret Anonim Şirketi.
The expansion of business activities with new names and additional portfolios by Turkish companies of Saab came right after Maduro’s meeting with Erdoğan in October 2017 in which several agreements were signed, paving the way for Venezuela to use Turkish territory to conduct controversial business activities, including gold refining. More hastily arranged intergovernmental agreements were signed between the two countries when Erdoğan visited Maduro in December 2018.
Filing in the Commercial Register for the establishment of Glenmore Dış Ticaret Ve Madencilik Anonim Şirketi:
A month after Erdoğan’s very first visit to Venezuela, Tareck El Aissami, then Venezuelan Minister of Industry and National Production, sanctioned by the United States for his role in global narcotics and his links with Iran and Hezbollah, came to Turkey and inspected the gold refineries. The growing alliance between the Erdoğan and Maduro governments has apparently angered the United States, which has begun to take a close look at the activities of the Venezuelan dictator in Turkey. In July 2019, Turkish Mulberry was sanctioned by the US Treasury along with the other network of companies run by Saab and its associates.
More revelations are expected to emerge about trade relations in Turkey when Saab, whose extradition to the United States was approved by the Cape Verde constitutional court on September 7, 2021, appears in a Miami court. He was arrested in June 2020 during a refueling stopover in Cape Verde while traveling between Iran and Venezuela. He claimed immunity as the Maduro regime’s special envoy but failed to convince judges in the West African nation.
In the meantime, no action has been taken by Erdoğan’s government to crack down on Saab’s Turkish network, which enjoys political coverage from Turkish leaders. All companies that Altun ran on behalf of Saab are still active according to the latest commercial register filings reviewed by Nordic Monitor.
According to the list of companies invited by Turkish government agency DTIK in 2016 to an event in Istanbul attended by the Turkish president, Altun was listed as representing a Swiss company.