[A-List] Turkey: electoral shenanigans
Michael.Keaney at mbs.fi
Fri Jul 19 02:43:34 MDT 2002
Sabri is away just now but that's no reason not to keep an eye on events in Turkey. We've discussed the Uzan family before. Now it seems one of them is ready to enter politics on an official basis.
Controversial Turkish businessman seeks political career
By Leyla Boulton in Ankara and Nikki Tait in London
Financial Times; Jul 19, 2002
Cem Uzan, a Turkish businessman who, together with his family, is being sued by Motorola and Nokia for $2.5bn, is seeking to enter politics as Turkey heads for early elections.
The western telecommunications companies filed a racketeering lawsuit against members of the Uzan family in a New York court in January pursuing debts owned to them by Telsim, the Uzan-owned mobile operator.
To win their case, Motorola and Nokia must demonstrate that the Uzans' failure to repay the money is part of a pattern of unethical business behaviour. Among the most controversial business families in Turkey, the Uzans are famous for fending off domestic critics and rivals with long drawn-out action in Turkish courts.
"We're afraid that if Cem Uzan gets into politics, that will strengthen his family's ability to abuse loopholes in the Turkish legal system and make any award we might win more difficult to enforce," said an executive for one of the plaintiffs yesterday.
Mr Uzan's newly launched Young party espouses a xenophobic brand of nationalism.
Yesterday Mr Uzan and three other members of the family were in London's High Court fighting a court order that freezes and requires them to disclose their assets worldwide.
In a hearing in front of Mr Justice Steel, lawyers for the Uzans maintained the order was unnecessary, since there was no risk of assets being dissipated. They also challenged the jurisdiction of the English courts.
However, Motorola's lawyers maintained there was "more than a real risk" that assets could be moved. They also noted that a disclosure document provided by Cem Uzan appeared to list no bank accounts, nor property in Turkey. A ruling will be made on Monday.
Separately, Judge Jed Rakoff, the judge hearing the court case in New York, is expected to rule soon on a motion from Motorola and Nokia asking him to declare Uzan family members in contempt of court.
The Uzans have so far refused to comply with the judge's order, pending a final ruling in the trial, that they turn over to a court registry Telsim shares pledged as collateral to Motorola and Nokia.
Former Istanbul mayor banned from elections
The head of Turkey's electoral watchdog said yesterday that Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the former Istanbul mayor and potential electoral frontrunner, could not take part in elections scheduled for November, Leyla Boulton reports from Ankara.
Tufan Algan, chairman of the high election board, said a three-year loss of political rights imposed on Mr Erdogan following his imprisonment for "inciting hatred" on religious grounds expired in January only.
Mr Erdogan's Justice and Development (Ak) party is seen by recent opinion polls as the only party capable of crossing the 10 per cent threshold for entering parliament.
The party owes much of its popular support - estimated at 20 per cent by polls - to Mr Erdogan's personal popularity.
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