Turkey’s Aktif Bank facilitated money transfers for Taliban, porn industry - report

FinCEN Files, a number of leaked classified documents from the U.S. Department of the Treasury, shed a light on Turkey's Aktif Bank central role in facilitating financial transactions deemed suspicious, Deutsche Welle said on Monday.

Aktif Bank, owned by Ahmet Çalık, a close business ally of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, is suspected of carrying out money laundering on grand scale "for a customer network that includes the scandal-ridden German financial service provider Wirecard and shady figures from the porn industry," DW said.

Turkish Energy Minister Berat Albayrak, Erdoğan's son-in-law, was CEO of Aktifbank's parent group, Çalık Holding, at the time when several "suspicious transactions" were made, it said.

FinCEN Files was leaked to BuzzFeed News and shared with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). The files from the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), is a bureau of the U.S. Department of the Treasury that collects and analyses information about financial transactions in order to combat domestic and international money laundering, terrorist financing, and other financial crimes.

Meanwhile, Aktif Bank was helping Germany's Wirecard Bank which "conducted a good deal of business with customers from the pornography and gambling industries", including MindGeek, owners of Pornhub and Youporn, DW said.

The German bank "made as many as 12 'suspicious transactions' worth more than $110,000 (€93,000) through its Aktif Bank account between May and July of 2014," it said.

Aktif Bank's Afghanistan operations, with 561 "suspicious transfers" worth $35.3 million from Afghan accounts, are also under spotlight. The transfers suggest money laundering since there is no information on the companies, raising question of possibility of being shell companies, DW said.

The New Kabul Bank, an institution that was at the centre of a billion-dollar corruption scandal in 2010 and Watan Oil and Gas, accused of having links to the radical Islamist Taliban by the U.S. government. 

U.S. government's investigation into Watan group revealed that it had paid the Taliban several million dollars in return for protecting their convoys, DW said.

Iranian-Turkish gold dealer Reza Zarrab said he bagan channelling cash to Iran’s central bank after opening an account with Aktif Bank, with the help of then Minister for Europe Egemen Bağış, starting with 5 to 10 million euros per day and evading U.S. sanctions on Iran, in his testimony in 2007.

Aktif Bank cut him out of the loop in late 2011, Zarrab said, after which he turned to Halkbank in 2012.

https://www.dw.com/en/fincen-turkey-aktif-bank/a-54991398