The saga involving Michael Flynn’s Turkish lobbying client took a new twist on Monday.
The newest development involves a business relationship between an Israeli oil company called Ratio Oil and the former Flynn client, Ekim Alptekin. Last week, the company claimed that a letter that Alptekin provided BuzzFeed as evidence of a business relationship was a forgery.
The June 28, 2016 letter was cited by Alptekin as evidence to support his claim that he was not working on behalf of the Turkish government by hiring Flynn for consulting and lobbying work last year. (RELATED: Allegations Of Forgery Made Against Michael Flynn’s Turkish Lobbying Client)
Alptekin, the chairman of the Turkish-U.S. Business Council, signed a $600,000 contract with Flynn in August to conduct an investigation into Fethullah Gulen, a political enemy of Turkey’s president who lives in the U.S.
Alptekin signed the contract through a Dutch shell company he owns called Inovo BV.
Flynn is currently under investigation because of the lobbying work, which the former Trump national security adviser did not disclose until he retroactively registered as a foreign agent of Turkey with the Justice Department in March.
In its response to last week’s BuzzFeed article, a spokeswoman for Ratio Oil directly alleged that the letter from Alptekin was a fake.
“The letter in question did not come from Ratio and therefore it is a forgery. Our response remains the same: Ratio did not employ the services of Mr. Ekim Alptekin,” Ratio spokeswoman Orit Teicher told The Daily Caller and other outlets.
In the letter, Ratio’s chairman, Ligad Rotlevy, purportedly informed Alptekin that he would exclusively represent Ratio in Turkey. The deal would allow Alptekin to transport natural gas from the Mediterranean Sea’s Leviathan gas field.
In interviews conducted since November, when his contract with Flynn was discovered, Alptekin has claimed that he hired the retired lieutenant general, in part, to help with a deal involving a Mideast oil company.
Alptekin refused to identify the company on the record. But in March, after an Israeli journalist named Ratio, the company denied having any business dealings with the Turkish entrepreneur.
But on Monday, BuzzFeed reported that other documents support Alptekin’s claims about working with Ratio. The website reported that emails, financial documents and photographs show that Alptekin and Ratio had a year-long business relationship which ended in February.
Emails viewed by BuzzFeed show that Ratio executives paid for Alptekin’s travel to a business conference in Israel in November. The outlet also reported on the existence of dozens of emails between Alptekin and Ratio officials beginning early last year. There is also evidence of “multiple” money transfers from Ratio to Inovo BV as well as an April 13, 2016 contract between the two companies.
It is not clear why Ratio would deny its relationship with Alptekin, though any connection to Flynn or the Turkish government would seemingly cause embarrassment for the company.
In response to follow up questions last week, Teicher insisted again that Ratio had not produced the June 28, 2016 letter. She declined additional comment, saying that Ratio had engaged its legal advisers.
But even when presented with the new evidence from BuzzFeed, Teicher maintained that Ratio did not work with Alptekin.
“Ratio did not employ the services of Mr. Ekim Alptekin nor Inovo BV,” she said, according to BuzzFeed.
Alptekin did not respond last week to multiple requests for comment and additional information about his dealings with Ratio.
Though Alptekin may indeed have worked with Ratio, many questions remain about his dealings with Flynn, including how Ratio would fit into the lobbying contract.
Alptekin has given numerous conflicting answers about his rationale for hiring Flynn. He has claimed that part of the rationale for hiring Flynn was to help repair relations between Turkey and the U.S. He said that the Gulen issue is a major roadblock to stronger diplomatic ties.
He also set up a meeting between Flynn and two high-ranking Turkish government officials. The meeting was held in New York City on Sept. 19, which Flynn was advising the Trump campaign.
In November, after Alptekin’s relationship with Flynn was revealed, Alptekin claimed that he paid the retired lieutenant general a five-figure sum of money for his consulting work. Flynn’s disclosures in March revealed that the contract was much larger. Alptekin ended up paying Flynn’s company $530,000 for several months of work.