Billion-dollar tenders with fake documents

23 Ocak 2024 Salı

I will tell you about a fraud involving a retired NATO soldier and a Turkish businessman. However, the story is a bit complicated. Without mentioning the necessary details, I cannot explain the subject or provide accurate information.

Fake money, fake paintings, and fake products are routine phrases we hear in everyday life. But have you ever heard of a fake guarantee letter, fake inspection report, or fake completion certificate?

Now, I will talk about a company that works in construction all around the world and has also been involved in projects in our country.

The company's name is Dillingham Construction International. This U.S.-based company has carried out projects in many countries around the world. It has also completed projects in our country between 1996 and 2000.

The Pleasanton-based company Dillingham, according to a report by Carolyn Said, a writer for 'Chronicle Personnel', filed for bankruptcy in its home country in 2003. According to the company's website, it has offices in North America, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, the South Pacific, Australia, and the Far East, and continues to work on projects. The CEO appears to be Verndell H. Gildhouse, a retired U.S. military officer who has lived in Turkey for over 30 years. Gildhouse established a joint company with our Turkish businessman in 2020.

FROM BANKRUPTCY TO A NEW COMPANY

After filing for bankruptcy in 2003, the company was purchased in 2016 by Verndell Gildhouse through a lawyer named Sharon Merril.

On November 26, 2020: A new company named Dillingham International Construction Inc., with a capital of 50,000 TL and based in Ankara, was founded by Umut Alkum. Currently, the company's director is Oğuzcan Sürgüt, and its capital is 10 million TL. The businessman named Umut Alkum appears to be the owner of the company, but the actual owner is Nihat Sürgüt. This name is already familiar in Turkey... Nihat Sürgüt, owner of Sutek, which participated in a tender related to the Natural Gas Sea Crossing Pipeline Project signed between Greece and Turkey on August 31, 2005, with Bayındır company, withdrew from the tender in exchange for 'exit' money. However, he reported an 'irregularity' to Şakir Arıkan, the acting General Manager of BOTAŞ at the time, when the winning joint venture of Peker-Öztaş did not pay the 'exit money'.

The media reported the partnership between the Turkish company with the same name as Dillingham Construction and the American company as 'Nihat Sürgüt became a partner in an American company'. As time passed, this newly established company completed its preparations and started to participate in tenders. I mentioned the necessary documents for entering the tender at the beginning of my writing.

But there is a problem. The company is newly established and has not won any tenders or completed any projects. For this company to enter construction tenders, it needs completion certificates. A solution is found. The projects completed by the bankrupt company before its bankruptcy are researched and listed. However, the completion certificates of the company are outdated, and there is a validity period after issuing a completion certificate. A solution for this is also prepared. Copies of the old completion certificates are made, and modifications are applied to make them ready for use. Now the system is ready. The so-called completion certificates of the bankrupt company are used to enter tenders, and tenders are followed.

The first target is the Mersin-Mezitli Metro tender...

The organizing institution is the Mersin Metropolitan Municipality Transportation Department. The tender, with an approximate cost of 3.1 billion TL, was won by the joint venture of Dillingham Construction Int. Inc and Kiska-Kom Construction with a bid of 3 billion 379 million 404 thousand TL. The second most advantageous offer in the tender was 3 billion 810 million liras by Doğuş Construction and Trade Inc. and Yapı Merkezi Construction and Industry Inc. Since the completion certificate is registered with the Public Procurement Authority, naturally, no one suspects the document.

Yes, a fake document! Don't ask how.

A blank A-4 paper, a computer, and a printer... The company makes modifications to its old completions. Using signature samples and letterhead papers obtained from the internet, they produce fakes of the completion certificates of the bankrupt company and support them with fake Apostille certificates and stamps made for imitation.

Let me give you an example; the completion certificate of the Los Angeles metro project completed by Dillingham before bankruptcy in 1989 is taken. First, a sample of the Apostille Certification approved by the State Department of California is obtained. Then a cold seal is adjusted. Afterward, the prepared fake completion certificate and Apostille certification are sent for translation. After sworn translation, it is notarized and then registered in the Public Procurement Authority system for tender. For example, for a completion certificate for a project in New Zealand, printers in Ankara are asked to make a replica of the cold seal. The printer says, 'An official document is required.' Immediately, a fake official document is prepared. That is, a fake official document is prepared for the fake cold seal!

EVERYTHING IS FAKE

To participate in tenders in Turkey, the company sends fake international completion certificates to the Public Procurement Authority. First, these fake documents are translated by a sworn translator. Then, with this translation, they go to a notary and get it approved. The notary does not stamp the document as 'true to the original' because most of the documents are photocopies.

Those who prepare the document stamp it as true to the original. However, these notarized documents are submitted to the Public Procurement Authority, and prequalification certificates are presented in tenders. Strangely, the Public Procurement Authority and the tender officials accept this document without examining it. I accessed the document submitted to the tender and asked the official authorities if the Apostille was authentic.

The response: The foreign document is fake!

Yes, the completion certificates submitted to the tenders are fake!

Is that all? No, it's not.

The company prepared similar documents for all completion certificates of the bankrupt U.S. company. I called the Public Procurement Authority. I asked experienced company owners who are experts in the field. I sent them samples of the documents. They were all surprised by the emerging picture. The report that was stated to be prepared as an independent audit report of the company is fake, according to my foreign source.

Let me mention some of the jobs that the company won in partnership:

Mersin Mezitli Metro Tender: 3 billion 379 million TL.

DSİ Bartın Central Gölbucağı Neighborhood Kanlı Dere and Hasan Dere: 89 million 270 thousand TL.

Rehabilitation of Existing Channel of Çoruhözü Stream in Kırıkkale Center: 120 million 7 TL.

Mechanical Revision, Repair, and Automation Construction Work at Berdan Drinking Water Treatment Plant in Mersin, Tarsus district.

Contract Number: 2022/114922 82 million 250 thousand TL.

Mersin Tarsus Agricultural Product Processing Specialized OSB Basic Infrastructure Construction Tender: 16 million 260 Euros (520 million TL).

Look, friends, these are the jobs that it won by forming partnerships. There are also tenders that the company won by allowing the use of its prequalification certificates. Let's think about the scale of the deception. Generally, they enter the tender in the form of a partnership and after winning the tender, the work is transferred to a subcontractor or the partnership. The amounts of the submitted fake completion certificates are incredibly high. The amount of the Los Angeles metro completion certificate is 2 billion 879 million dollars, and the amount of the Egypt drinking water drainage completion certificate is 308 million dollars.

This is the fraud involving a retired NATO soldier and a Turkish businessman... In my previous article, I said that we have strayed from the path of righteousness and sunk into the quagmire of immorality. Before I forget, if there will be any objection to my article, I declare that I will inform the relevant authorities with all the documents and evidence in my possession.


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