Top fuel retailer, DoIan barred from public tenders amid dispute with ErdoIan

The Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources has re-launched a one-year ban on Petrol Ofisi (PO), barring the countryand’s largest fuel retailer and its subsidiaries from participating in public tenders for the remaining 237 days of 2015, as of Wednesday.
The ban on participating in public tenders also covers Turkeyand’s Dogan Holding, the former owner of PO. Dogan operates one of Turkeyand’s largest media groups and has come under intense pressure from the government for its critical coverage of President Recep Tayyip Erdoganand’s administration. In 2009 the Energy Ministry prevented PO — under majority ownership by Dogan Holding at the time — from bidding in state tenders after the company allegedly failed to comply with the conditions of previous tenders. The restriction was lifted after a decision handed down by the Ankara 12th Administrative Court suspended an earlier judgment. Most recently, the Council of State reversed the courtand’s judgment, nullifying its cancellation of the ban, and referred the case file to the court to rehear the case. An announcement published by the ministry in the Official Gazette on Wednesday said that PO and its affiliates will be subject to the ban for the rest of the year. Dogan Holdingand’s shares in Petrol Ofisi were acquired by Austrian energy giant OMV for 1 million euros in October 2010. Dogan Holding, also owner of one of the countryand’s largest media groups, said last week that one of its units had placed a non-binding bid for the Turkish fuel distribution business of French oil producer Total. In a statement to the Istanbul stock exchange, Dogan said its Aytemiz fuel distributor had placed the offer to buy all of the Total unit and that if accepted, due diligence would begin.
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Dogan and Petrol Ofisi were handed a one-year ban in 2009 over quality issues in a supply deal with a state power plant. They served part of that before the penalty was overturned by a court.
Energy Minister Taner Yildiz said on Wednesday the decision to reinstate the penalty was not related to the recent media dispute. andquotThis ruling is a decision that has nothing to do with the current conjuncture and debates,andquot he told reporters in Ankara. In 2009, Dogan was handed a large tax penalty after a tax inspection that followed its close coverage of corruption allegations against figures close to Erdogan.
Erdogan said the corruption investigations were concocted by a former ally turned political enemy who was seeking to engineer a coup against him. He has since purged the police force and judiciary and the investigations have been dropped. Company founder Aydin Dogan was forced after the tax demand to sell the groupand’s Milliyet and Vatan newspapers, the Star TV channel and shares in Petrol Ofisi.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman