Main suspect in scandal has history of customs violations...
Police attention has focused on one suspect in particular. İshak Romano has faced charges in an İstanbul court for the past year over allegations that he was involved in the importation of smuggled meat. Customs officials in 1999 investigated four companies connected with Romano İnter Gıda, Başak, Burçak and Okyanus Su Ürünleri. According to authorities, the companies were smuggling undocumented meant into the country on permits issued for the importation of tuna fish. Romano continued to import meat, allegedly as much as 10,000 tons of uncertain origin, while he was facing the charges in court over the last year.
In Ankara, of the 18 people originally detained in connection with the current investigation, nine have been formally charged.
SIX PHONY COMPANIES
It is claimed that Romano set up six companies as a front to his smuggling scheme, two of which are located in Turkey. He reportedly deposited earnings from his business into Swiss, Danish and American banks.
It is claimed that Romano imported into Turkey meat and dairy products to be exported to third countries, including Ukraine, Armenia and Moldova, but then sold the items domestically.
Romano was allegedly able to keep his scheme going through bribes, and by passing off meat brought into the country as animal fat, and other products that do not demand customs duties.
Romano has also been accused of bringing into the country 150 tons of Kasseri cheese and 250 tons of margarine illegally, which were discovered recently in an İstanbul store.
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