Turkish investment agency supported one-time al-Qaeda financier for energy projects
16 Apr 2020

İlker Aycı, then-president of the Investment Support and Promotion Agency of Turkey (ISPAT) and current Turkish Airlines (THY) board chairman, facilitated the investments and private businesses of one-time al-Qaeda financier Yasin al-Qadi, confidential documents have revealed.

According to a wiretap authorized by a Turkish court as part of a corruption investigation in Turkey, Aycı, accompanied by then-ISPAT department head Abdulkerim Çay, met with al-Qadi in the private office of Cengiz Aktürk, who was also a suspect in the same investigation and a close associate of al-Qadi.

Secret documents obtained by Nordic Monitor reveal how al-Qadi was encouraged at the time by the Turkish government to bid in tenders for the privatization of thermal power plants. “We should be ready by the end of the year, then you can launch,” al-Qadi told Aycı, referring to the tender for the power plants. In response, Aycı said, “Alright, we will do our best [to assist]”. Aycı also asked al-Qadi to conclude preparations for the project before his presentation to then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. “Let’s complete our work as soon as possible and visit [Erdoğan] immediately,” Aycı said.

Aycı would remain chair of ISPAT until he was named chairman of the country’s national flag carrier, THY, in 2015. Aycı was involved in setting up the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) İstanbul office. He was also a consultant to Erdoğan during the latter’s term as mayor of İstanbul between 1994 and 1998.

Al-Qadi is an Egyptian-born Saudi national who was at one time flagged by the US Treasury and the UN al-Qaeda sanction committee. Al-Qadi was later removed from the UN list, followed by the US Treasury delisting his name.

In a secret meeting that took place on the evening of August 18, 2013, Aycı informed al-Qadi of his scheduled meeting with the then-energy minister, Taner Yıldız, to discuss foreign investments in the energy sector. Aycı also said Erdoğan had instructed Yıldız not to interfere with foreign investments in energy sources and argued that ISPAT had become the main authority for dealing with foreign investors.

According to another wiretapped conversation, al-Qadi’s right-hand man, Osama Qutb, who was engaging in money laundering in Turkey on behalf of the Saudi businessman, was in close contact with Aktürk. In the conversation Aktürk and Qutb are heard discussing plans for money laundering by means of Aktürk’s companies. Aktürk, who owns cosmetics companies, tells Qutb that it was not possible to launder so much money with perfume and that they had to find another method.

“You mean the money has to be laundered. You can’t do that much money with perfume, I mean, it’s impossible… But here it will be alright. Perfume does not yield such serious returns. But here, you can at least show those figures as clear income… You know, there’s a degree to which you can turn in a written statement saying you bought this house with this income,” Aktürk told Qutb.

Read more at Nordic Monitor

Photo: TurkishAirlines/CC BY-SA 4.0

RiskScreen: Eliminating Financial Crime with Smart Technology

Count this content towards your CPD minutes, by signing up to our CPD Wallet