Mercantile dynasty falls from grace

Gorvett, Jon
October 2003
Middle East;Oct2003, Issue 338, p44
Dynastic rulers of an economic empire that stretched from mobile phones to electricity companies and via cement and banking interests, TV stations and newspapers — the Uzan family has seen their funds dry up, their interests sequestered and in early August, 2003, a string of arrest warrants issued against them. The Turkish police and the financial inspectors pondered what many allege is their role in the biggest banking fraud in Turkish history. The Uzan family, headed by Kemal Uzan, has long been known in Turkey for its powerful business interests. Yet the undoing of the family seems largely to have begun abroad. The banking regulation authority moved against one of the Uzans' two banks, Imar Bank. Taking it over, authorities alleged that the bank's management had been siphoning off bank deposits to use as loans to other Uzan companies. It was also widely commented within the banking and financial sector — though not officially — that Imar Bank had hundreds of off book accounts — money deposited with the bank that had not been registered or recorded in the official accounts. Uzans' cement businesses were raided by police, who confiscated large quantities of equipment. New allegations are that Imar Bank took money from customers to buy treasury bonds, but did not buy bonds.


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