Nokan Group and the PUK business empire

By Mufid Abdulla:

Nokan Group

Nokan Group offices

Since 1991 the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) leaders have considered themselves bound to an economic model which enables them to monopolise the Kurdish market, especially in Sulaymani and the surrounding areas. The major sectors of the Kurdish economy which today provide a good mark-up and return comprise the telecommunications and construction industries and tourism. The Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) also controls 50 large companies – which I will consider in a future article – but here I will focus on the PUK.

The economic model in Kurdistan monopolises the market for the benefit of a few and poisons the environment for Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs), preventing them from flourishing. The PUK is a key beneficiary of this situation.

Asia Cell is one giant, PUK-dominated telecommunications company that has operated since the 1990s. It’s director and co-founder is Farooq Mustafa Rasool. The estate of Asia Cell can be valued at around £300 million. Most of its shareholders are from the Gulf states and very few are local. However, the company is controlled by the PUK. As one businessman told me: “The PUK has its hands in all of our pockets.”  Where the PUK does not have the main shareholding rights in a company, it proceeds to place a levy on a percentage of that firm’s profits. As a result, for example, most building companies are now owned or controlled by the PUK Politburo.

The Nokan Group is the hub of the PUK’s business empire. The Nokan Company was established in the 1990s and it’s co-founder and main shareholder is Deler Saeed Magid who is the treasurer and considered to be a principle officer of the company. The company is effectively run from the PUK’s General Management building in Sulaymani where hundreds of staff are employed to look after Nokan’s interests.  These are considerable: Estimates of Nokan’s assets are in the billions, not millions.

The Nokan Group now has more than 23 subsidiary companies from which – even when it does not have a share of the ownership – the PUK will claim the majority of profits at the conclusion of projects. These subsidiaries include the Halabja Company, which recently built a ‘Garden City’ for which the land was provided by the Nokan Company for a few million US dollars and a 25% share of the profits. The ‘Garden City’ consists of seven tower buildings, with each tower comprising 13-14 floors and each floor at least 4-5 flats. The average sale price of these flats is US$150-200,000.

Other companies which have been built up by the Nokan Company have a dummy director or operator assigned to them so that they can pretend the company belongs to these people rather than to Nokan. We can give the following examples: Kawan, Barez, Nalia, Chavi Gashtiary, Rawanduz, Group Hoshier Company, Meer Soma, Wali Ragi Company,  Saeeb City, Nozad Jaff (North Bank), Karook Group, Roj City and City Star. All of these companies are connected to the PUK’s business and enterprise industry. Our researchers have also concluded that the Zagroz Company can be directly linked to the former Prime Minister.

Nokan’s activity in London is similar to that back home. The Nokan Company Limited was incorporated in the UK on 18 March 2008. Nokan’s UK company accounts show only £1 million on its balance sheet but, according to reliable sources close to the PUK’s finances, the company is worth millions, if not billions, in the UK. It has been registered in the names of people not openly connected to the PUK.  However, at one stage party officials considered registering the UK company openly in the name of the PUK. The accounts which are lodged with Companies House in Cardiff list Deler Saeed Magidis as the main shareholder and seem puzzling.

These observations and analyses have been made since the recent announcement by the two ruling parties, the PUK and the KDP, of their plans to consolidate their financial management systems. This raises the question as to how it could be possible for the Nokan companies to be consolidated with opening and closing balances.

According to our Finance Department, from considering the factors mentioned above, we can conclude that the net worth of the Nokan Group, from all the operations and assets it controls, must amount to at least 4-5 billion US dollars.

Nokan is considered to be the owner and stakeholder of the largest area of land in the Sulaymani area. The recent tragedy inside the security apparatus in Sulaymani – with the death in custody of the Mayor – shows the extent of the struggle that is taking place between rival groups within the PUK who are fighting over their ill-gotten gains. The PUK is illegally obtaining monies through different sources – for example, selling agriculture land meant to be assigned to the public for residential purposes and occupying land, without compensation, on which the rightful owner for some reason was unable to complete a project. In one instance land in the centre of Sulaymani that was owned by 63 families was illegally sold to a private company for a large amount of money to build hotels, shops and restaurants.

Against this background, it is almost impossible to believe that Nokan – and other  PUK and KDP-run companies – will successfully consolidate their business accounts.

The Nokan Group is very different to the Tata Group which has contributed to economic development not only in India, its home base, but also globally. By contrast, the main objective of Nokan companies is to generate profit for their political masters. Nokan companies have not built anything amazing but on the contrary they have made a major contribution to corruption across Kurdistan.

Copyright © 2012

4 Responses to Nokan Group and the PUK business empire
  1. Azad Ezzat
    May 26, 2012 | 13:14

    One day they will be dragged down just like Mubarak and the other dictators. There is no immunity from the anger of the general public.

  2. JHrtz
    May 26, 2012 | 16:27

    Undeniably this is not only true but nepotism and corruption creeps into the fabric of the Kurdish society, to the extent that it’s becoming a’norm’ for many individuals. This ugly truth is unique, as little tin-pot local dictators thrives on family power control and grab most resources. Sadly, ordinary people suffer further from a typical Mafioso style system.

  3. […] Nokan is run from the general management office of the PUK in Sulaymani district. The newspaper estimates that, accounting for its 23 subsidiary companies, the Nokan Group’s net worth approaches roughly […]

  4. […] Nokan is run from the general management office of the PUK in Sulaymani district. The newspaper estimates that, accounting for its 23 subsidiary companies, the Nokan Group’s net worth approaches roughly […]

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