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Motorola awarded $4bn from Turkish fraud case

A US court has issued a $4.3bn judgment against the Uzan family of Turkey for perpetrating a fraud against Motorola through their control of cellular operator Telsim Mobil Telekomunikasyon Hizmetleri.

The court ruled that the Uzans fraudulently induced Motorola to lend Telsim $1.8bn as financing for Telsim, and that the family "siphoned more than a billion dollars of plaintiffs' money into their own pockets and into the coffers of other entities they control".

The court order specified that if the individual defendants are found within US jurisdiction, they will be arrested and held in confinement until they comply with the directives of the court, including previous judgments about transferring Telsim stock to the court's jurisdiction, which has held them in contempt.

Of the five Uzan family members who face arrest, Cem Uzan is a leading player in Turkish political life and regarded as a potential challenger to incumbent prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Motorola entered into agreements with Telsim in 1998 under which Motorola provided Telsim with equipment financing, financing to purchase a cellular licence from the Turkish government and equipment for a GSM system, to the total value of $2bn.

The Uzans have also been ordered to hand over shares in Telsim to Nokia, which claims it was defrauded of around $700m under a similar agreement.

UK courts have already frozen the financial assets of several members of the Uzan family. In December 2002, a UK court sentenced Cem Uzan to 15 months' imprisonment for contempt of court.

David Legard writes for IDG News Service

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