Turkish tycoon in London court to stop Ankara seizing his mining company

Turkey’s government claims that billionaire Akin Ipek supported the failed 2016 coup

Akin Ipek speaks to media as he leaves Westminster Magistrates Court after his extradition hearing was dismissed in London, Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018. Akin Ipek, is a high-profile critic of President Erdogan of Turkey whose newspapers and TV stations were seized by the Turkish state in 2015. The Turkish Government was seeking the extradition of Mr Ipek, who lives in London and is the director of British company Koza Ltd, and other critics of the Erdogan regime. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
Powered by automated translation

A high-profile Turkish dissident is set for his latest showdown with the Ankara regime as he tries to prevent it from seizing his London-based assets.

The UK’s Supreme Court will decide if the English justice system has the exclusive jurisdiction to rule “on a dispute over the control” of a UK mining company owned by Akin Ipek, a frequent critic of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Mr Ipek has been accused of supporting a terrorist organisation and involvement in the failed 2016 coup attempt, charges he denies. Ankara claims he is a member of the banned Gulenist movement.

Britain has thus far refused Turkish requests to extradite the mining and media magnate amid fears the case against Mr Ipek is politically motivated.

Much of his asset base was seized by Ankara as it cracked down on alleged supporters of US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, who Mr Erdogan blames for the plot to unseat him.

The case, that began on Tuesday, will look into the control of Koza Ltd, a UK mining venture chaired by Mr Ipek and founded in 2014.

Koza Ltd’s parent company is Koza Altin, which was requisitioned by the Turkish government in 2015 after the charges levied at Mr Ipek.

It is part of the huge Koza-Ipek conglomerate founded by Mr Ipek’s father decades ago. Koza-Ipek includes a smattering of mining companies and media outlets including the Begun newspaper, now closed, which increasingly took a critical position on Mr Ergodan’s government.

Koza Altin is currently run by trustees who are trying to wrest control of Koza Ltd, according to Mr Ipek, and this latest stage of the long-running legal battle will decide if the case should be heard by the English courts.

In November 2018 a London court blocked an extradition request by Turkish authorities who accused Mr Ipek of involvement in the 2016 coup attempt. He has complained that his family and employees have been harassed and received death threats from supporters of the Erdogan regime in London.

The businessman, 54, is said to have amassed a multi-billion-dollar fortune largely through the gold mining industry.