Court awards Motorola $4B from Turkish fraud case

A U.S. district court in New York has issued a US$4.3 billion judgement against the Uzan family of Turkey for perpetrating a fraud against Motorola Inc. through their control of cellular operator Telsim Mobil Telekomunikasyon Hizmetleri A.S., Motorola said in a statement Friday.

The court ruled that the Uzans fraudulently induced Motorola to lend Telsim US$1.8 billion as financing for Telsim. In fact, the court ruled, “the Uzans have siphoned more than a billion dollars of plaintiffs’ money into their own pockets and into the coffers of other entities they control,” according to the statement.

The court order specifies that if the individual defendants are found within U.S. jurisdiction, they will be immediately arrested and held in confinement until they comply with the directives of the court, including prior judgements about transferring Telsim stock to the court’s jurisdiction, which has held them in contempt.

Of the five Uzan family members who face arrest, Cem Uzan is a leading player in Turkish political life and regarded as a potential challenger to incumbent Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The court said that the Uzans “sought to advance and conceal their scheme through an almost endless series of lies, threats, and chicanery,” according to the Motorola statement.

Motorola entered into agreements with Telsim in 1998 under which Motorola provided Telsim with equipment financing, financing to purchase a cellular license from the government of Turkey and equipment for a (GSM) Global System for Mobile communications cellular telephone system, to the total value of US$2 billion.

The Uzans have also been ordered to hand over shares in Telsim to Nokia Corp., which claims it was defrauded of around US$700 million under a similar agreement.

Courts in the U.K have already frozen the financial assets of several members of the Uzan family. In December 2002, a U.K. court sentenced Cem Uzan to 15 months imprisonment for contempt of court in that he failed to appear in the U.K. to testify in the case.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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