Semih Kaya was supposed to be one of the key reinforcements in Sparta Prague during the time of Italian coach Andrea Stramaccioni. The defender arrived in 2017 for 52 million crowns from the big club Galatasaray Istanbul, but he did not leave a big mark in the red jersey.
Rather than his performance on the pitch, the story was about his salary, which was the highest in the entire cabin. The media speculated about the amount of 3.7 million crowns. Due to repeated injuries, Kaya did not appear very often on the pitch, he started in the starting line-up, for example, during the infamous double match with the Serbian team Spartak Subotica.
Kaya announced the end of his career last summer, but now he is back in the spotlight in his native Turkey. The footballer is being investigated by the police for usury in relation to his involvement in a huge financial scandal referred to as the “Fatih Terim Fund”. Kaya was supposed to put his earned money into it, along with other famous football players. But the fund worked on the “airplane” principle – only those who gave money first had a chance to get the money back.
A document with the banker’s signature
The key figure in the large-scale fraud is the banker Seçil Erzanová, who worked as the head of the Istanbul branch of Denizbank. After the banking house signed a sponsorship contract with the Galatasaray Istanbul team, Erzanová became a financial advisor to coach Fatih Terim and also advised a number of players on investments.
During the interrogation at the prosecutor’s office, the banker testified that she started having problems in 2011 after she invested in venture funds and lost a million Turkish lira in two days. As she struggled to cover the loss, she came up with the idea of starting a “highly profitable fund” that would offer a fantastic profit – in just 25 days the amount invested was expected to increase by 27 percent.
Seçil Erzan was caught in a luxurious house in Göktürk. The investigation progressed rapidly because there were famous names among them.
(Türkiye’s Economy Channel) pic.twitter.com/Q8X8qX7oSH
— Türkiye’s Economy Channel (@TurkeysEconomyC) December 3, 2023
The banker turned to the footballers, telling them that the famous coach Fatih Terim had also invested in the fund (the police are also investigating his involvement in the fraud and possible profit from it). For example, Emre Belözöglu, Fernando Muslera or former Barcelona star Arda Turan were convinced. Their only guarantee was a document issued by the bank and signed by Erzanová. Football players usually brought money in cash in bags.
He sold the land to invest
It was Turan who invested the most in the fraudulent fund, a total of 13.9 million dollars, according to the Turkish branch of Deutsche Welle. The football player sold a plot of land worth four million dollars for investment and borrowed additional money from a Denizbank branch. However, he has received only 6.4 million in return. “I have brought you my wealth, Seçil. What am I going to do now? Will you tell my wife?” he reacted emotionally in one of the interviews.
Former Spartan Kaya, who was supposed to pay the banker 3.2 million dollars, went straight to Erzan’s house to get the money. She testified to the police that he physically assaulted and threatened her. So she returned the money to him, but he took away more than he invested, allegedly the sum of 5.7 million. Kaya himself claims that he invested more and that the amount reported in the media is fabricated.
“I received this money that I paid to Semih Kay from Emre Belözoğlu and Arda Turan. Kaya bought a villa in Bodrum for 4.2 million euros after my payment,” said the former banker, who faces up to 216 years in prison.
In an interview with journalist Nevşin Mengü, Kaya denied that he would use violence against the banker. “I have a wife without whom I do not go anywhere … why would I use violence,” he defended himself. “I don’t trust a banker, I trust a bank that tells me it will somehow value my money,” he explained of his decision to invest in the fund.
Together with him, at least 18 people who invested tens of millions of dollars in the fund believed in Erzan. The exact amount has not yet been determined, there is talk of 25, but maybe up to 40 million dollars. Seven people, including Erzanová, are charged with fraud and falsification of official documents, while football players Semih Kaya and Ayhan Akman are investigated separately on suspicion of usury.