Over the past year Turkey has frequently been in the headlines–in the wake of the devastating earthquake in February 2023, and the re-election campaign of President Erdogan. After 20 years in power Erdogan has continued his reign over the country, and has a significant presence in global diplomacy, whether it be holding the veto over Sweden’s entrance into NATO or as the prime channel for negotiations with Russia regarding the Black Sea grain deal. Although many outside observers are wary of Erdogan’s unpredictable decision making style, some are expecting a slow return to more traditional economic policies.
The main sources for company information in Turkey are the various sites of the chambers of commerce, with the Istanbul Chamber of Commerce being the largest. Easily searchable, one can obtain registration details, directorship information and basic details on where the company is based and what it does. The Istanbul Chamber of Commerce is open to search for free, though the standard of data availability can drop significantly when checking the provincial chambers of commerce such as Adana and Bursa.
The Turkish Trade Registry Gazette is also a valuable resource when looking for information on companies in Turkey. A searchable register of announcements, the Gazette includes information on the issuing of share capital, mergers and general meetings. Anyone can register for access, though copies of signed announcements require a small fee. Bankruptcy and insolvency information is also available through the registry.
Ultimate Beneficial Ownership (UBO) information is hard to access in Turkey. While companies are required to annually declare their UBO to the Tax Office, this information is not currently available to the public. Open Ownership notes that Turkey has not yet committed to any open register of UBOs, though at present this puts it in line with the rest of the EU. Additionally the European Commission has noted that Turkey currently has no provisions in place requiring the publication of annual accounts for all limited liability companies.
Legal records in Turkey are generally not available for public examination. However, Lawyers can access the National Judiciary Informatics System, or UYAP. This is an online system that links all courts, the offices of public prosecutors and the institutions of the Ministry of Justice. A registered legal professional can use UYAP to gain access to all legislation, decisions of the Court of Cassation, judicial records and police and military prosecution records.
In the last few years Turkey has experienced significant deterioration on media freedom and repression of freedom of speech generally under Erdogan’s regime. The European Union reported in 2022 that “Channels critical of the President and the government faced heavy monetary fines by the media regulator Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK).”
Moving beyond traditional media, the EU’s report also stated that “Conditions for an open and free internet are not in place in Turkey. Numerous websites and social media that express views not in line with the positions of the ruling coalition, are often blocked and their authors face harassment and at times prosecution.”
The Committee to Protect Journalists named Turkey as Number 4 in it’s list of nations jailing the highest amount of journalists for 2022 and stated that “Turkey’s independent media remain decimated by government shutdowns, takeovers, and the forcing of scores of journalists into exile or out of the profession.” With this considered, the quality of the media has significantly reduced since 2016, and the ability of journalists to report without fear of legal, political or sometimes physical attack cannot be at all guaranteed.
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