Turkey's Dogan says inspections triggered by political motives

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Turkeys Dogan says inspections triggered by political motives
Oluşturulma Tarihi: Şubat 20, 2009 00:00

Turkey's largest media company Dogan Group said on Thursday it faces bureaucratic pressures and obstructions as a part of government's efforts to assimilate the independent and free press.

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"Such methods, as it was experienced in the latest tax levy regarding the Dogan Media Group, to assimilate independent and free press have no place in a democracy," the company said in a written statement on Thursday.

The Turkish Treasury imposed late on Tuesday a half-billion-dollar levy against the Dogan Media Group, parent company of Hurriyet, as the government effectively carries its war against the media to a new level.

Dogan said in the statement that the Finance Ministry took an unprecedented step in its history with running checks on seven companies owned by the same group simultaneously in eleven months.

"We have serious doubts that these scrutinies are triggered by political motives. The allegations and the claims put forward by Mr. Prime Minister in his party meetings as well as political rallies are feeding these doubts," the statement added.

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Dogan Group urged "all institutions and people who invest, create jobs and pay taxes to react against these unjust practices."

The order to Dogan Media Group (DMG) to pay 826.3 million Turkish lira ($490 million) came to light on Wednesday in a filing by DMG to the Istanbul Stock Exchange.

It results from an alleged carriage of receipts from a 2006 sale of a 25 percent share in Dogan TV to German media group Axel Springer into 2007 as a means to avoid taxation.

Government officials reportedly reason that a memorandum of understanding featuring tentative sales terms of 375 million euros in November 2006 amounted to tax evasion after the regulator-required due diligence process pushed the sale into January 2007.

The closing memorandum, which triggered the transfer of shares and payment from Germany into a Turkish bank, occurred on Jan. 2, 2007 -- the date the final sales agreement was executed.


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