Turkish PM, sons, sue for damages from Cumhuriyet over Paradise Papers

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım and his sons have filed a lawsuit for damages in the amount of TL 500,000 against the Cumhuriyet daily for publishing a story on the Paradise Papers, which include documents about the offshore investments of Yıldırım’s family.

According to Cumhuriyet, Binali Yıldırım and his sons Erkam Yıldırım and Bülent Yıldırım accused the daily of “attacking [their] personal rights” and “preparing a story with special emphasis on insulting and ridiculing.”

“The only suit for damages against the Paradise Papers, which revealed the offshore investments of 126 politicians and leaders around the world, was filed by Binali Yıldırım,” Cumhuriyet said in an online story.

According to the documents published by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) on Nov. 5, Erkam Yıldırım and Bülent Yıldırım are the adult sons of the Prime Minister Yıldırım, whose family made its fortune in the shipping industry. The brothers are the sole shareholders of two companies registered in Malta: Hawke Bay Marine Co. Ltd., which was set up in April 2004 and according to public records owns or manages shipping vessels; and Black Eagle Marine Co. Ltd., incorporated in January 2007.

Prime Minister Yıldırım on Tuesday confirmed the documents, saying nothing illegal took place and that his sons have no immunity from an investigation.

“Navigation is a global business; they [his sons] do business all over the world. This is not a hidden issue. They [media] are trying to play with the perception that there is something secret about this business,” Yıldırım.

“Since I am a politician, it is exotic for them to do stories on my children’s activities. I have immunity, but my children do not. I am saying here that all kinds of investigations can be launched.”

But a motion filed by an opposition party to investigate claims in the Panama Papers, which included documents about offshore investments of Prime Minister Yıldırım’s family, was rejected on Wednesday in Parliament by the votes of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

An investigation into Binali Yıldırım’s family enterprise, part of the European Investigative Collaborations’ (EIC) Malta Files, revealed in May that his family currently possesses shipping and related assets of well over 100 million euros, according to reports on the theblacksea.eu and mediapart.fr news websites.

Yıldırım’s family enterprise consists of 11 foreign-flagged ships nested in a network of secretive companies in Malta, the Netherlands and the Netherlands Antilles — specifically now Curacao, with more suspected in the Marshall Islands and Panama. At least four of the ships are financed with huge loans from Swiss and Turkish banks, including one part owned by the Turkish state.

The Black Sea website discovered that Yıldırım’s son, daughter, uncle and nephews have purchased seven properties in the Netherlands, worth over $2.5 million – all of which were paid for in cash.

The investigation also uncovered how the Yıldırıms used one of these Dutch companies to anonymously donate 600,000 euros to the municipality of Pendik, near İstanbul, for a lavish new mosque.

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