Prominent Turkish-German tourism entrepreneur Vural Öger is facing legal action for up to €17 million of debts owed to leisure airline Sun Express but claims he is the victim of a 'dirty campaign'.
In a complex legal dispute, Öger is accused of failing to pass on sales revenues to the German-Turkish airline and then selling off assets cheaply in order to reduce his private income, which would be used to pay back the debts.
According to a report by the Spiegel Online news portal on June 7, Öger owes Sun Express about €17 million for sales of flight tickets in recent years by his now-insolvent company Öger Türk Tur (ÖTT), which specialised in seat-only airline ticket sales and cooperated closely with Sun Express.
Last year, Öger apparently signed a guarantee, under which he pledged to pay back the debts from his personal income in instalments if ÖTT was unable to do so. ÖTT declared insolvency at the start of this year and stopped trading. This came shortly after the insolvency of his mainstream tour operator V.Ö. Travel.
However, according to Spiegel Online, the entrepreneur already sold off personal assets such as property, land and holdings in companies below their value last autumn in order to reduce the level of his private income.
On May 6, the Frankfurt county court then granted an application by Sun Express in order to secure assets worth about €1 million. Under this application, Öger could be forced to terminate the contracts of the asset sales, thus increasing the value of his private income again.
Sun Express, jointly owned by Turkish Airlines and Lufthansa, confirmed yesterday (June 8) that it is owed €17 million by Vural Öger and that it intends to recover the sum through legal action. The claim was initially reduced to €1 million to minimise court costs but could be increased again at a later date, the airline stated.
Vural Öger himself confirmed the asset sales but claimed they had been legal and justified. In various media interviews, he declared he is the victim of a ‘dirty campaign’ and that “people want to destroy me”. He claimed that ‘the Turkish state’ is behind the legal action by Sun Express. “I regularly received threats from Turkey because I spoke out against the state leadership,” he told one newspaper. His lawyers are now preparing legal action against Sun Express.
The tourism entrepreneur is best known as the founder of Öger Tours, the Turkey tour operator that he sold to Thomas Cook in 2011. In January 2014 he returned to the German market with the launch of V.Ö. Travel as a new specialist tour operator for Turkey holidays. Alongside Öger Türk Tur, which was founded in 1972, he also owned the Turkish hotel chain Majesty Hotels and an incoming agency, Holiday Plan.