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ISTANBUL -- Dinc Bilgin, the owner of Turkey's second largest media holding, Bilgin Group, was detained by police March 30 in relation to an ongoing investigation of Etibank, which was owned by Mr. Bilgin until its recent transfer to Savings and Deposits Insurance Fund.

The police also detained Mr. Bilgin's son, Onay Bilgin, who was on the bank's board of directors, and two former director generals. According to Turkish news agency Anatolian Agency, Mr. Bilgin and the others were detained by the police to answer questions about credit transactions between Etibank and the group's other entities.

Following Mr. Bilgin's detention, the Bilgin Group issued the following written statement: "Mr. Dinc Bilgin has accepted all his debts without any hesitation. Our group, which has $255 million paid capital, has the resources to pay all its debts."

Today, the daily Sabah, Bilgin Group's flagship title and one of Turkey's biggest circulation national dailies, devoted most of its front page to the subject with the headline "Here is the truth."

The newspaper detailed the Bilgin Group's financial dealings in relation to Etibank and how the group tried to save the financially troubled institution. Sabah claims that Etibank has a different status to the other banks transferred to the Savings and Deposits Insurance Fund in that Etibak made sure that every step in the process -- including an attempted sale -- was reported to the Ministry of Treasury.

The arrest comes 10 months after another high-profile banking investigation in Turkey involving Egebeank and its advertising agency, Cenajans Grey.

Copyright April 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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