A female bank manager could be facing up to 226 years in prison for allegedly conning famous Turkish footballers out of millions by telling them about a “secret fund” at the bank that they could access if they would back risky investments.
Suspect Secil Erzan was accused of swindling around USD 43 million (GBP 34 million) and TRY 15 million (GBP 410,000) after she targeted 29 people.
She and six other suspects were formally charged with ‘qualified fraud’ and ‘forgery’ during a 20th November hearing at the Istanbul 41st High Criminal Court, after dozens of victims claimed they suffered enormous losses in her fraudulent investment scheme.
Prosecutors said during her time working as branch manager at Denizbank, Erzan had established close relationships with famous Turkish footballers.
After suffering huge losses in the stock market in 2011, prosecutors said Erzan turned to her well-off acquaintances and began receiving money with the promise of investment.
Erzan confessed to telling them that “there was a secret fund in the bank, it brought high returns, and former Galatasaray coach Fatih Terim and Denizbank CEO Hakan Ates were also in this fund.”
According to her statement, Erzan “established a system” that works by paying off someone’s debt with money she received from someone else.
Allegedly, the money was hand-delivered in bags, some inside the bank and some outside the bank.
It is claimed that she prepared ‘documents’ for those who requested them, some of which had the Denizbank stamp on them.
The alleged victims, including former football stars such as Arda Turan and Selcuk Inan, reportedly received nothing more than handwritten notes or simple papers as proof of their investments.
Erzan told the court: “I promised people that the fund I managed had high returns, emphasising investments from individuals like Hakan Ates and Fatih Terim.
“I claimed that the fund had 30-45 day maturities, and upon maturity, substantial profits ranging from 20 per cent to 40 per cent would be earned.
“I was in such a tight spot that, having distributed a considerable amount in interest, I resorted to taking money from people with promises of a fund and attempted to make them pay excessive interest rates they demanded from me.”
When she could not make the payments after a while, the scheme came to light and she was arrested on 11th April, 2023.
Terim, nicknamed the “emperor”, who is a Turkish association football manager and has managed several clubs in Italy, denied having involvement in the scheme.
During the hearing, Erzan defended herself, saying: “I was the captain of a sinking ship. If I were a fraudster, the ship would sink and I would escape.”
She even went on to claim her victims were the ones to blame for having expected such high return rates.
Erzan later claimed senior bank managers were also involved in the plot and put pressure on her to keep going.
But Denizbank denied having anything to do with the case and claimed Erzan worked on her own.
Prosecutors asked that Erzan be to be imprisoned from 66 to 226 years.
Her next hearing is scheduled for 12th January.
The investigation is ongoing.