Report: PKK transfers millions to Dubai from Europe

18 August 2013 /TODAY’S ZAMAN, İSTANBUL – A news report in Sunday’s Vatan daily, attributed to police intelligence sources, claimed that the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) has been managing nearly $1 billion in funds in Switzerland, Malta and Greek Cyprus and has recently shifted some of the money to Dubai.

According to the report, pressure on so-called “tax havens” in Europe does not only disturb “secret millionaires” but also the PKK, which led to a huge transfer of money to the Gulf States from European countries. Although it is still vague how much money the PKK holds in bank funds around the world, police intelligence sources relate that the financial weight of the organization is around one billion dollars, money resulting from such activities as smuggling people, drugs, cigarettes and fuel oil, as well as racketeering, bringing in $150 to $200 million each year.

It is also reported that the PKK is a secret shareholder in many European companies that are owned by Kurdish businessmen.

The PKK especially uses the countries referred to as “tax havens” in order to cover the tracks of its money traffic. Carrying out its commercial activities through a front corporation based in Luxembourg, the PKK currently holds $500 million of ready cash in secret bank accounts in Greek Cyprus, Malta and Switzerland.

With the financial crisis hitting global markets, tax havens were also affected. After the German Secret Service’s (BND) revelation of secret bank accounts in Liechtenstein — a landlocked Alpine country in central Europe, bordered by Switzerland and Austria — many individuals and companies were subsequently affected. When American and British tax authorities forced Switzerland and Luxembourg to collaborate in their hunt for secret accounts, this paved the way for a transparency process that caused terrorist organizations to search for new avenues. In addition, the banking system in Greek Cyprus, which almost faced bankruptcy, made money launderers seek some safer ports. It is estimated that the PKK has $100 million in Dubai, which the organization transferred from Europe, and uses the capital to finance its operations in the Middle East. The administration in Dubai, which is said to avoid international collaboration, and the very high level of financial activities in in the region are the two main reasons the money is difficult to trace. These are claimed to be the grounds for the PKK’s choice. 

It is also reported that Kurdish people continue to be recruited by the PKK despite the settlement process announced by the PKK in March.

The Turkish government has been holding talks with the imprisoned PKK leader, Abdullah Öcalan, since October to find a peaceful and political solution to the decades-old Kurdish dispute and the armed conflict.

Öcalan called on PKK militants to withdraw to northern Iraq from Turkish soil in a message on March 21, the day of Nevruz, the Kurdish spring festival. The PKK announced on May 8 that it had begun to withdraw its forces from Turkey.