Sikorsky denies involvement in Ergenekon corruption

September 23, 2009, Wednesday/ 16:30:00/ EMRE SONCAN
Global helicopter manufacturer Sikorsky has responded to news stories in the Turkish press claiming that it bribed generals to seal purchase tenders held by the Gendarmerie General Command.

The newspapers had quoted selections from the indictment into Ergenekon, a clandestine network charged with plotting to overthrow the government.

Stephen Estill, a vice president of the company in charge of strategic partnerships, denied any wrongdoing regarding army tenders, noting: “Sikorsky would never do anything unethical. We have a zero tolerance policy [regarding unethical conduct of business]. I can't state this more clearly. We are looking into the matter.”

Estill said his company had become aware of the allegations mentioned in the indictment only when these were printed in the press and declined to comment further before his company fully understands the allegations.

Evidence included in the 138th folder as part of an addendum to the indictment -- based on a letter found inside the home of Ergenekon suspect Ünal İnanç -- suggests that individuals in the military involved in organizing tenders regularly accepted bribes from helicopter manufacturer Sikorsky.

The note found in İnanç's home, a summary of what he had heard from a man he referred to as Atilla -- a retired noncommissioned officer who worked as a technician in the military and was employed at Sikorsky's Turkish headquarters -- reads: “A 35-year-old American who maintains contact with the US and acts as a coordinator is head of the company.

Former gendarmerie generals R.B. and F.Ö.B. are also there. F.Ö.B. retired from the force three years ago. R.B. replaced him. F.Ö.B. used to get $40,000 a month from the company as his salary, and gave half to Gendarmerie General Commander F.Ö.B. At the end of the year, F.Ö.B. will be retiring and R.B. will replace him. From then on, R.B. will maintain contact between M.Ş.E., appointed as the general commander. This wheel has been turning like this for 11 years. Retired Gen. A.Ö., formerly head of the Land Forces Land Aviation Department, is doing the same thing here. A., who provided the information, works for this company. He is a former Sikorsky helicopter technician who was a noncommissioned officer. He goes to tenders in Ankara and then goes to the Land Forces Command and the gendarmerie and does the distribution; 90 percent of all of the tenders Sikorsky is eligible to bid on go to the company.”

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