Turkey’s Soylu ‘could have been president’ had he not wronged him, says mobster

Turkish mobster Sedat Peker, in his ninth tell-all video, said Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu had been vying for the presidential seat.

“You try to become the president of this country with your brain the size of a hazelnut,” Peker said, addressing Soylu. “You could have, if you hadn’t sold me out.”

Sunday’s 84-minute-long video focuses on accusations against Soylu, as well as details of corruption and bribery in municipalities and irregularities in the way Turkey’s largest media conglomerate was taken over by a government ally.

“You will be tried at the Grand Chamber, and I will testify that you hosted me in your offices before I left,” Peker said.

The mafia leader also accused Soylu of tipping off a Turkish businessman about an investigation on him and advised him to leave the country.

According to Peker, the Deputy Director of Security for Organised Crime Resul Holoğlu called businessman Sezgin Baran Korkmaz to invite him to the Interior Ministry. Korkmaz stayed in the ministry for two hours on Dec. 5 in 2020. While he was there, Soylu paid him off and warned the man that an investigation had been completed, telling him to leave the country. According to Peker, Soylu told Korkmaz that “superiors knows about this”. By superiors, Soylu meant Erdoğan.

Korkmaz left the country on Dec. 6, weeks before Turkish authorities ordered his arrest in an attempt to recover $132 million he allegedly defrauded from the U.S. government.

The businessman is involved with Jacob and Isaiah Kingston, the so-called Mormon Crime Brothers from Utah, convicted of fraud and money laundering. Ahval has covered the case extensively since 2018.

A chief judge in the regional administrative court in Ankara stayed in a luxury suite in Paramount Hotel, a hotel in the southwestern touristic town of Bodrum that Korkmaz owns, Peker said.

The mobster said Veysi Ateş, a presenter who had moderated a recent appearance of Soylu on HaberTürk TV and appeared to be throwing softballs to the minister, and pro-government journalist Rasim Ozan Kütahyalı were among several others who took vacations in the hotel owned by Korkmaz. Peker implied connections between Korkmaz and several judges, prosecutors and police chiefs, without naming concrete names.

“What are you doing in a wanted man’s hotel?” Peker asked. “Where are the invoices for the $100,000 suites you stayed at? How much is your salary?”

Peker detailed his previous accusations against Soylu, saying his insurance company “grew by 5,000 percent” since he aligned himself with the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). Further explaining his previous veiled accusations, Peker said he had paid “much more than $10,000” to AKP deputy Metin Külünk.

“I didn’t send anybody such money, but I did send larger amounts,” he said.

Peker paid “1.5 million liras in today’s money”, which comes to $180,000, to loansharks for a relative of Külünk, he said. “He would ask me to send money to those associations in Germany, and I would do so under the table.”

The associations in question could be the Osmanen Germania, the Turkish nationalist biker gang in Germany that has threatened local Kurdish activists in the past. Külünk was accused of financing the gang, which has since been convicted of various crimes including murder and trafficking.

Nate Schenkkan, director of research strategy at Freedom House, told Ahval in February that the gang had been one of Turkey’s proxies to achieve their aims abroad.

“Almost every important actor in the pro-AKP network in Germany seems to have some kind of connection to Külünk - or to be seeking one,” German journalist Lennart Pfahler said in a tweet from 2019 where he shared a detailed map.

“I didn’t send $10,000 every month,” Peker said. “I would leave money in his car around times of election.”

U.S. President Joe Biden wanted to use Peker’s accusations against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Peker said he had been told by Külünk. “I told him, ‘What are you on about, brother? Biden is just waiting around for Sedat Peker?’ They have completely lost it. They have gone insane, by God.”

Peker also detailed his accusations against media mogul Yıldırım Demirören, and said he had never paid back a $750 million loan he used to take over Doğan Media, one of the largest media conglomerates in Turkey previously owned by Aydın Doğan.

“We raided the newspaper,” Peker said, referring to the attack on the headquarters of Hürriyet, Doğan Media’s flagship newspaper and one of the most popular in the country. “Aydın Doğan was afraid of the chaos and gave the grounds for $750 million.”

The money used for the acquisition came from a loan that the state-owned Ziraat Bank gave out.

“This fraudster never paid back a cent from this $750 million, do you know?” Peker asked. “He didn’t even pay the interest.”

Demirören isn’t in control of the media group he owns, Peker continued. “Serhat and Berat are,” he said, in an apparent reference to Berat Albayrak, Erdoğan’s son-in-law and previous finance minister, and his brother Serhat Albayrak, who also controls the other major media conglomerate, Turkuvaz Media.

Demirören also won tenders to build roads in Azerbaijan, Peker said, a development that Azeris were not happy with. “I wouldn’t be surprised if they start calling us the robbers of the Ummah, instead of the leaders,” he said.

Peker started the tell-all series as his “lion hunt”, which refers to a great achievement that would dwarf any smaller wrongdoings in the past, he said.

In the upcoming videos, Peker will talk about corruption in public tenders, and how the system of bribery has been set up in municipalities, he said. Sunday’s video makes a quick introduction to municipalities as well.

“Mayors don’t take money directly from you, they are suspicious,” he said. “They tell you to make a donation to this or that charity.”

After the bribe is donated to the charity of choice, the mayor uses a trusted person to issue an inflated invoice, and pocket the difference between the actual cost of the job and the money that was paid, Peker explained.

Another way to defraud municipalities was in the contractor system, he continued. A pro-government contractor would win a bid, then pass the job along to a sub-contractor for a fraction of the cost, which would then do the same for an even smaller amount, according to Peker. This way, a job that would cost $2 million is invoiced to the state for $1 billion, he said.

“You will lose your minds when I tell you,” Peker said.

Peker will “tell you this and other stories. In time, you will take the government,” he said. After the opposition takes the government, they will have everything necessary to take down the system of corruption, “with no cost to you,” he added.

“This is the way rightwingers work,” he said. “When you hear that religion is being destroyed, the homeland is destroyed, look behind them. There you will see a play. The system doesn’t change. This system built on the backs of the people always includes stealing.”