Incognito Turks rise to top of country’s taxpayer list

Two incognito Turks have topped a list of the country’s leading taxpayers, according to figures published by the Treasury and Finance Ministry.

The mystery persons were among 57 people in the top 100 income taxpayers in 2018 who withheld their names, locations and how much they paid. Two unidentified taxpayers were ranked second and fourth in a similar list for 2017.

Mustafa Rahmi Koç, the honorary chairman of Koç Holding, Turkey’s biggest industrial group, ranked third with tax payments of 54.2 million liras ($9.5 million), retaining his place from 2017.

Şarık Tara, who heads ENKA, a prominent construction and energy conglomerate, fell to fourth in the rankings from first, with total payments of 36.2 million liras. He paid 53.6 million liras in 2017.  

The names of billionaire businessmen known for their close links to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan were conspicuous by their absence for another year.

The missing people included Mehmet Cengiz, head of Cengiz Holding, Naci Koloğlu, who owns the Kolin Group of companies, Nihat Özdemir, chairman of Limak Holding and Orhan Cemal Kalyoncu, head of Kalyon Group. The four founded an operating company that built and runs the $11 billion Istanbul Airport, which opened last year.

Erman Ilıcak, rated by Forbes as Turkey’s second-richest person with wealth of $3.5 billion, was ranked fifth in the list. He was not named in the 2017 report. Ilıcak owns Rönesans Holding, which has built skyscrapers in Turkey, Russia and Central Asia.

Murat Ülker, Turkey’s richest man with wealth of $3.7 billion, was also not named.