The Turkish businessman who paid Michael Flynn’s consulting firm $530,000 while he was serving as a top adviser to Donald Trump’s campaign has extensive business ties to Russia, Politico reported Tuesday.
Ekim Alptekin, who runs Dutch firm Inovo BV, has since 2015 worked closely with Ukraine-born businessman Dmitri “David” Zaikan to coordinate Turkish lobbying efforts in Washington, D.C., according to the report. Both Alptekin and Zaikan have negotiated business deals with Vladimir Putin’s government, according to court records obtained by the news site.
As Politico reported:
The man, Ekim Alptekin, has in recent years helped to coordinate Turkish lobbying in Washington with Dmitri “David” Zaikin, a Soviet-born former executive in Russian energy and mining companies who also has had dealings with Putin’s government, according to three people with direct knowledge of the activities.
This unusual arrangement, in which Alptekin and Zaikin have helped steer Turkish lobbying through various groups since at least 2015, raises questions about both the agenda of the two men and the source of the funds used to pay the lobbyists.
A lawyer for Flynn, who was hired by Alptekin in August and made his final payments to contractors working on the Inovo project a month after Trump named him as national security adviser, declined to comment to Politico. Russia was under investigation for meddling in the U.S. presidential election during Flynn’s tenure with Inovo.
In March, shortly after being forced out of the White House for failing to disclose conversations he had with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S., Flynn filed paperwork with the Justice Department acknowledging that his lobbying work “principally benefited the Republic of Turkey.” He said in those filings that Flynn Intel Group’s task was to research and produce promotional material on Fethullah Gülen, a Turkish cleric living in Pennsylvania who President Recep Tayyip Erdogan believes is trying to undermine his rule. The firm also pressured U.S. officials to investigate and take action against the cleric.