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Last Updated: Saturday, 14 February, 2004, 16:14 GMT
Turkey seizes Uzan family firms
Hakan Uzan
Telsim chief Hakan Uzan is on the wanted list
Turkish financial authorities have seized over 200 companies belonging to the Uzan business dynasty.

The Turkish Savings and Deposits Insurance Fund said it was seizing the firms because they had failed to repay debts of more than $5.5bn.

Turkey accuses the Uzans of being involved in bank fraud - a charge denied by the family.

The Uzans' interests range from media to telecommunications and construction materials.

The family's mobile telephone operator, Telsim, which is the second biggest in the country, was one of the 219 institutions seized.

Turkish authorities say that an investigation into the Uzan-run Imar Bank revealed a huge deficit, established that the company hid the real number of its clients and sold non-existing treasury bonds.

The government is reimbursing account holders who lost money in the scandal.

The statement said the Uzans failed to present any plan on how they would repay their debt to authorities.

'Innocent victims'

Several Uzan family members - including patriarch Kemal Uzan - are on the run, while others are standing trial along with company managers.

Arrest warrants have been issued for Kemal Uzan, his brother Yavuz and Kemal's younger son Hakan, on charges of embezzlement, fraud and irregular off-shore transactions.

The Uzan say they are innocent victims of politics.

Cem Uzan, unconnected with the Imar Bank fraud probe, is the leader of Turkey's right-wing Youth party.

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