Prosecutors charge 2 involved in Flynn's Turkish lobbying

by Garry Watts December 20, 2018, 1:02
Prosecutors charge 2 involved in Flynn's Turkish lobbying

Kian made his first appearance in Alexandria federal court Monday morning; Alptekin remains in Turkey.

Kian and Alptekin were charged with conspiracy to work as unregistered agents of a foreign government.

Flynn, Kian, and Alptekin drew up a contract in which Alptekin's firm paid hundreds of thousands to Flynn Intel Group, Flynn's consulting group, for delivering "findings and results including but not limited to making criminal referrals" against Gulen, The Washington Post reports. The two worked throughout 2016 to seek ways to have cleric Fethullah G├╝len extradited from the USA to Turkey.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan blames Gulen for the attempted coup two years ago.

However, rather than register with the Justice Department as lobbyists for Turkey, Kian and Alptekin, according to the indictment, conspired to have Alptekin's company, Inovo BV, serve as the cutout. Alptekin was also charged with three counts of lying to the federal agents, court documents reveal.

A lawyer for Rafiekian, 66, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

At that time, Flynn and his firm acknowledged the lobbying efforts "could be construed to have principally benefited the Republic of Turkey" but that was disputed by Alptekin.

If that name sounds familiar, it may be from the now-infamous op-ed Flynn wrote for The Hill on Election Day 2016 headlined "Our ally Turkey is in crisis and needs our support".

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Flynn, who is described as "Person A" in the indictment, had a key roll in the lobbying campaign. Gulen denies that he played any role. They tried to hide from U.S. authorities that some $530,000 in payments to the Flynn Intel Group were for work on behalf of the Turkish government, prosecutors allege.

Rafiekian, Alptekin, Flynn and other employees of Flynn Intel met with Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu, and energy minister, Berat Albayrak, on September 19, 2016 on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York City. As part of the alleged scheme, Flynn Intel "was to kick back 20 percent of the payments to Alptekin's company in the Netherlands".

A senior White House official pushed back on the Turkish Foreign Minister's assertion, stressing that Mr Trump did not commit to extraditing Mr Gulen during a meeting with Mr Erdogan at the G20 summit two weeks ago.

He's provided "substantial assistance" to the investigation since then, according to a court filing from Mueller earlier this month, leading the special counsel to recommend no prison time.

Shortly after receiving the go-ahead from the Turkish government, Rafiekian, and Alptekin took steps to hide the source of funds and influence, renaming the lobbying project from "Project Freedom" to "Operation Confidence" and establishing a payment arrangement where Inovo BV would wire a total of $600,000 to Flynn Intel Group, with Alptekin receiving 20 percent as a kickback, the prosecutors allege.

Flynn has been cooperating with prosecutors after he pleaded guilty to unrelated charges and is due to be sentenced this week.

Flynn was charged by Mueller for lying to investigators past year, including about his work at the Flynn Intel Group Inc. on behalf of Turkey.

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