A business group that owns a maritime company helped the Turkish government violate the United Nations arms embargo on Libya, prompting UN investigators to flag the shipping line operating out of Turkey.
According to a report submitted to the UN Security Council, a Turkish maritime company identified as Akdeniz Roro Deniz Taşımacılığı, Turizm Sanayi ve Ticaret Limited Şirketi transported military goods to Turkish-backed factions in Libya. The company is owned and operated by the Kalyoncu business group, a family-owned enterprise and known to be close to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
The trade registry records show that Akdeniz was purchased by Hasan Kalyoncu, one of the top managers in the group, on September 15, 2015 from its original owner, Veysel Kara, also a Turkish national who set up the company back on October 4, 2013 with capital of 100,000 Turkish lira ($50,000). The company had operated in the Turkish Mediterranean province of Mersin but moved its office to Samsun on the Black Sea in the north of Turkey on January 12, 2021.
UN report on how Turkey violated the arms embargo on Libya using a Turkish maritime company:Akdeniz_Kalyoncu_firms_UN_violations_Libya
According to the detailed UN investigation, the MV Amazon, operated by Akdeniz, embarked on a secret mission of carrying military goods to Libya as part of a clandestine operation sanctioned by the Erdoğan government. The shipment was ordered by the Presidency of the Defense Industry (Savunma Sanayii Başkanlığı, SSB), Turkey’s procurement agency, which was sanctioned by the US Treasury over Turkey’s purchase of S-400 long-range missiles from Russia. The SSB is controlled by President Erdoğan.
The ship started its voyage from Samsun on May 9, 2019 with a declared destination of Izmir, transited the Bosporus two days later and suddenly went dark on the night of May 14/15 in the vicinity of the Izmir port, where it took on Kirpi 4×4 Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles as well as utility trucks that were part of ground terminals for Turkish-produced armed drones.
The Kirpi was manufactured by Turkish company BMC, owned by Ethem Sancak, a close friend of President Erdoğan who has enriched himself with political favors and uncontested government tenders, all thanks to Erdoğan. The Amazon also carried vehicles that function as a command, control, computer and communication (C4) system for the Turkish Bayraktar TB2 armed drone, manufactured by President Erdoğan’s son-in-law Selçuk Bayraktar.
Sailing under the Moldovan flag, the Amazon activated its automatic identification system (AIS) at 12:18 hours on May 15, 2019 after the cargo was secretly loaded on the ship and changed its destination to Tripoli. It delivered the vehicles to armed factions aligned with Libya’s Government of National Accord (GNA) on May 18, 2019. Among the recipients of the vehicles was the Al Somoud Brigade (also known as Fakhr, or the Pride of Libya, and the Misratan Al Marsa Central Shield brigade) commanded by Salah Badi, who was designated under the UN Security Council resolution that authorized the sanctions on Libya.
Trade registry records show the Kalyoncu group acquired Akdeniz in 2015:Trade_registry_record_Akdeniz_2015_kalyoncu
It turned out that the Kalyoncu group registered the Amazon as well as two other ships in their fleet, the MV Beril and the MV Mira, in Moldova under a shell company named Maya Roro S.A. After the UN Investigators started looking closely into the Amazon and its operator Akdeniz, Moldovan authorities removed the Turkish ships from its flag registry. The Turkish owners rushed to get a provisional registry for Amazon in Togo in June 2019. However, when Togo was alerted to the ship’s clandestine activities, the registration was cancelled by the Togo Maritime Administration in August 2019 as well.
Akdeniz is part of the Kalyoncu group of companies, which include its main firm, Kalyonu Nakliyat Turizm Ticaret ve Sanayi Limited Şirketi, a leading transportation and logistics firm that handles sizable exports of fresh Turkish produce. According to the company’s website, the group controls 22 percent of Turkey’s fresh produce exports. Company officials have received numerous awards for their performance in Turkey’s exports from government officials including the Turkish president.
The Erdoğan government has been criticized by international and regional organizations for deploying its troops to Libya, shipping military vehicles and arms and moving jihadists from Syria’s Idlib region to the country. Turkey has also been accused of committing regular and increasingly blatant violations of the UN arms embargo on Libya.