Turkish Cengiz got jobs worth 1 billion KM, but BiH workers will not be compensated

Semira DEGIRMENDŽIĆ
Autor 30.3.2022. u 12:17

Turkish Cengiz got jobs worth 1 billion KM, but BiH workers will not be compensated

Foto: D. Begović

Admir Menzilović has been waging a legal battle against the Turkish company Cengiz for years, which is obliged to pay him around 300,000 KM, but they avoid this by manipulating the name and headquarters of the company and the founder. Menzilović has received several court verdicts against the Turkish company Cengiz, but he cannot collect his claims and exercise his rights, because the company that is the legal successor of Cengiz, Insaat has its accounts blocked. On the other hand, the same company has opened a branch in Zenica and is working smoothly. Turkish Cengiz avoids answering the questions we asked them

From 2012 to May 2014, Admir Menzilović from Hadžići was an employee of the Turkish company Cengiz Insaat, which performed works on the section of the Vlakovo – Tarčin road.

Menzilović was employed for an indefinite period of time, and in November 2013 he had an accident on the construction site as a result of which he suffered injuries that caused him disability.

By: Semira DEGIRMENDŽIĆ

I was injured while we were working on the tunnel mould in Lepenica when that steel mould cracked and a piece of steel hit me in the back and damaged my vertebrae. I was saying it couldn’t be done, and the boss made me do it. After that, they took me to the ambulance in Hadžići, where I was given help, but the documentation I received did not state that I had been injured at work. Later I heard that the police in Hadžići, to whom the doctor who received me was supposed to report it, tried to cover everything up, but later the doctor who treated me corrected the mistake and issued me documentation on the basis of which I could apply for compensation. I also had life insurance since we worked in tunnels 1.4 kilometres underground. However, I received a rejection, because life insurance does not include compensation for damage to the spine and kidneys – Menzilović told Fokus.

While on sick leave, he was fired, ending on May 31., 2014.

Facsimile of dismissal of Admir Menzilović from Cengiz: Court finds that dismissal was illegal

The decision was sent to him by post from Cengiz Insaat in June 2014, along with a workbook. Menzilović, who claims that he was fired illegally and that the company should have paid him compensation for an injury at work, decided to seek justice in court. Then his agony begins, and it lasts to this day.

WORKERS, SLAVES THAT WORKED FOR 15 HOURS

Years of legal struggle followed, from which Menzilović emerged victorious against a powerful and arrogant employer. But only on paper. The verdicts passed before the courts in Sarajevo in his favour, and the last one passed in June last year, mean nothing, because this former Cengiz worker cannot collect his claims.

Facsimiles of part of Sarajevo Cantonal Court rulings in favour of Admir Menzilovic: All Turkish Cengiz appeals rejected

Our interlocutor explains that the reason is that the company Cengiz Insaat changed its owner. Namely, until 2018, the founder of Cengiz Insaat was Cengiz Insaat Sanayi ve Ticaret AnonyM Sirketi, and the director was Utku Gok Evren. However, in 2018, the decision of the Municipal Court in Sarajevo entered changes in the court register on the transfer of shares and change of member, then the full and abbreviated name of the company, change of address and director of the company, and Cengiz Insaat becomes TD Consulting.

Facsimile of Court Register Extract: Evidence that Cengiz Insaat changed its name to TD Consulting

– We found out all that when we tried to collect everything that the court ruled, and when interest is calculated on all those amounts, that figure is around 300,000 KM. However, how to collect these funds now that we learned that Cengiz Insaat Sanayi ve Ticaret Anonymous Sirketi, led by director Utku Goko Evren, sold off its sister company Cengiz Insaat and opened a new company in Zenica called Cengiz Construction. They got a new VAT and ID number. Allegedly, due to millions of debt, the accounts of Cengiz Insaat, which has been registered as TD Consulting since 2018, from which I should collect my receivables, have been blocked – says Menzilović indignantly, adding that there are several other former employees of the company in which he also worked, and who, despite the verdicts received, could not collect their claims.

Facsimile of excerpts from the Unified Register of Accounts in BiH: Eight accounts of TD Consulting, former Chengiz Insat blocked, which is why Menzilović cannot collect receivables

Menzilović points out that he and other BiH workers in the Turkish company were “mostly slaves”.

– We worked for 1,000 KM, and sometimes we didn’t even have 1,000 KM. The contract was for 8 hours and we all worked 15 hours. We worked 15 days during the day, and 15 during the night, and we had a day off every 15 days – says our interlocutor.

Menzilović believes that the company Cengiz Insaat, ie the people behind this and the companies “daughters”, “mothers” and “sisters” associated with this Turkish company could not have avoided their obligations to BiH workers if they had not been allowed to do so by one of the politically powerful people in our country.

– How is it possible that Cengiz Insaat sold out its fleet of 42 vehicles a few years ago, and I have information that state companies such as JKP “Komunalno” from Hadžići, and FBiH Motorway, as well as Euroasfalt, also bought them, without tenders and everything was paid in cash – says Menzilović.

We sent a request to the mentioned companies whether they bought vehicles from Cengiz Insaat. The only ones who answered us were from JKP “Komunalno” from Hadžići, who sent a contract for the purchase of one vehicle from a Turkish company, which shows that it was purchased without a tender and a negotiated procedure. We did not receive an additional explanation as to why this procedure was used, and not the public announcement as required by the Public Procurement Act.

Admir Menzilović tried to get answers when the awarded funds will be paid to him at the headquarters of the new company under whose name Cengiz now works, which is located near Zenica. He says that lawyers who used to work at Cengiz Insaat also work there.

– They received me and the workers wanted to collect humanitarian aid for me, but I refused and said that I was only asking for what belonged to me by a court ruling that confirmed my claims – says Menzilović.

While he was fighting to get his claims, our interlocutor says that he received information that Cengiz was “distributing with a hat and a fist”  millions of KM.

– While I was fighting to exercise my rights and pay me what belongs to me, they refused. But, that is why there was information, it was also in the media, that Cengiz donated a million to KCUS, then a million for the construction of a mosque in Tarčin, and all, allegedly, in cash. How is it possible that a company owes money to former workers, and is wasting money – Menzilović wonders who shared some information about suspicious activities in the company where he once worked, as he says, with the Federal Police Administration and the State Investigation and Protection Agency.

He addressed Menzilovic and the Turkish Embassy in Sarajevo to acquaint them with the problem he had with the Turkish company and sent a letter to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Apart from the information that they received from his letters, the Turkish Embassy in Sarajevo did not contact Menzilović anymore. Focus also sent an inquiry about this problem to the Turkish Embassy in BiH, but we did not receive an answer.

Facsimile of Menzilović’s letter to the Turkish president: He also wrote to Erdogan in vain

We tried to verify all the allegations of Admir Menzilović in the company Cengiz, which deals with the construction of roads on Corridor 5c. However, the company does not have registered telephone numbers with BH telecom operators and does not have publicly available contacts such as e-mail on the Internet.

Therefore, we took our written request directly to the Cengiz branch near Zenica, more precisely to Donja Golubinja.

Our intention was to hand over our inquiry to one of the authorities and ask them directly about all the ambiguities and doubts regarding the company Cengiz, which arose during the investigation into the allegations of Admir Menzilović.

THE MINISTRY CLAIMS THAT THE TURKISH COMPANY HAS NO DEBT

However, we only managed to talk to an employee at the porter’s lodge at the entrance to the construction site. He contacted one of the authorities, and then we talked on his mobile phone with a person who introduced himself to us as Ibrahim without saying his last name and position. Our conversation ended so we were informed that we could leave our inquiry at the porter’s lodge. An employee working at the reception told us that he was told he could not sign that he had received our written inquiry. Therefore, we immortalized this submission with a photo and returned to Sarajevo without an answer, and our inquiry was not answered even after a month.

An employee at the Cengiz porter’s lodge near Zenica received our inquiry, but was instructed not to sign the reception / Photo: D. Begović

Although it is clear from the documentation submitted to us by Admir Menzilović, and his allegations, that behind the company Cengiz Insaat, which has changed its name in the meantime, are the same names as in Cengiz Insaat Sanayi ve Ticaret Anonim Sirketi – Zenica Branch. Director, from the answer of the Federal Ministry of Transport and Communications to Focus’s question about whether they know that the Turkish company performing works on Corridor 5c has debts to BiH workers, it is even clearer how many deceptions and frauds of the Turkish contractor thrive in our country.

– Cengiz Insaat Sanayi ve Ticaret Anonim Sirketi – Zenica branch, as well as its founder Cengiz Insaat Sanayi ve Ticaret Anonim Sirketi, Istanbul, Republic of Turkey, does not owe any worker any amount of money “due to injury at work and illegal dismissals “, Nor is there a single” final court judgment “on that legal basis, which obliges the mentioned legal entities to make such payments – they stated for Fokus from the Federal Ministry of Transport and Communications.

By the way, from the answer we received from the Federal Ministry of Transport and Communications about the total value of road construction works in FBiH that the Turkish company Cengiz has received so far, we learned that the value of these contracts is around one billion and two hundred million KM!

– The company Cengiz has so far won five contracts for the construction of the highway on Corridor 5c in the FBiH. As part of the Vlakovo – Tarčin section, which was opened in 2014, contracts were signed for the construction of the Vlakovo – Lepenica (Lot 3), Lepenica – Suhodol (Lot 2) and Suhodol – Tarčin (Lot 1) subsections. The value of the contract for the construction of the Vlakovo – Lepenica sub-section amounted to EUR 165,398,441.75 including VAT, the Lepenica-Suhodol sub-section EUR 78,088,148.24 with VAT and the Suhodol-Tarčin sub-section EUR 114,379,578.91 including VAT. It should be noted that the contracts for the Vlakovo – Lepenica and Suhodol – Tarčin subsections were completed below the agreed value, while the contracted price for the Lepenica – Suhodol subsection was slightly less than three million due to unforeseen works in the project implementation phase. The company Cengiz also performed works on the section Donja Gračanica (Zenica North) – Tunnel “Zenica”. The value of the contract for the construction of the section Donja Gračanica (Zenica North) – The tunnel “Zenica” is 67,360,069.25 euros with VAT. In addition to these shares, the company Cengiz is currently performing works on the section Poprikuša – Nemila, and the value of the contract for the section Poprikuša – Nemila is 208,059,247.42 euros including VAT – the Federal Ministry of Transport and Communications told Fokus.

Facsimile of the answer of the Federal Ministry of Transport and Communications: They claim that the company Cengiz does not owe anything to BiH workers despite the existence of final judgments

THE MAJORITY OF WORKERS ARE FROM TURKEY

Judging by the answer from this ministry, although it gets valuable jobs in BiH, the Turkish company Cengiz mostly brings workers from Turkey, so their number is almost four times higher than those hired from BiH.

– Cengiz Insaat Sanayi ve Ticaret Anonymous Sirketi – Zenica Branch, as a subsidiary of a foreign legal entity, founder of Cengiz Insaat Sanayi ve Ticaret Anonymous Sirketi, Istanbul, Turkey, currently in FBiH has 230 employees from the Republic of Turkey and 60 employees from BiH. The number of workers varies in relation to the construction season, so it is smaller during the winter period, while during other seasons it is sometimes twice as big – the FBiH Ministry of Transport and Communications stated for Fokus.

In the FBiH Tax Administration, we tried to find out how many times since 2015 the company Cengiz Insaat, ie its founder Cengiz Insaat Sanayi ve Ticaret as has changed its name in BiH and how many times it has opened new transaction accounts from 2015 until today. However, as in the case of other companies, for Cengiz if you want to know some details, it is not possible, because they are protected by the provision of tax secrecy and such information can be disclosed only with the consent of the taxpayer.

– Change of data such as the name of the entity, seat, administration, etc. on the basic entity is done with the competent registration authority, ie the court. We emphasize that the Tax Administration of the Federation of BiH cannot prevent changes in the founders, directors and names of the company. However, the change of the name of the company does not affect the rights and obligations of the taxpayer, because, from the aspect of the Tax Administration, all data on one taxpayer are recorded under the same ID number.

Other information and data you provided in the request can not be provided, because they are a tax secret in accordance with Article 3, paragraph 1, item 4 of the Law on Tax Administration of the Federation of BiH and they can not be made public without the prior written consent of taxpayers – stated from the FBiH Tax Administration in response to Focus.

Although the law says that changing the name of the company does not affect the rights and obligations of the taxpayer, the example of Cengiz Insaat and the case of Admir Menzilović, who is not the only one, proves the opposite. Because, no one explains what if the company changed its founder, director and name, and at the same time its accounts were blocked, and how can someone collect their claims in such cases.

What is even more interesting is that the company TD Consulting is in the register of financial statements called Cengiz Insaat, although in the court register in 2018 Cengiz Insaat became TD Consulting! This was confirmed for Fokus in the Financial-Information Agency, to which business entities submit financial reports by law.

Tarčin: The headquarters of Cengiz Insaat used to be in Tarčin, but in 2018 the company changed its owner, apparently only on paper / Photo: D. Begović

The FIA confirmed to us that they submitted data on the legal entity Cengiz Insaat to the Federal Ministry of Finance – Tax Administration of FBiH because they did not comply with the Law on Accounting and Auditing of FBiH.

This institution confirmed to Fokus that Cengiz Insaat last submitted financial reports in 2017, while TD Consulting is no longer mentioned.

The Turkish company Cengiz, which is currently working on the construction of roads in BiH, submitted the financial report for 2020, it was confirmed to us in the FIA, and the company Cengiz Construction did the same.

By the way, the Law on Accounting and Auditing in the Federation of BiH for failure to submit financial reports to the Financial Information Agency prescribes fines for legal entities in the amount of 10,000.00 KM to 50,000.00 KM, as well as a fine in the amount of 1,000.00 KM to 3,000.00 KM for the responsible person in the legal entity.

We did not receive information on whether Cengiz paid this fine for failing to submit a report.

And while in our country obviously no one cares about whether foreign companies violate the rights of our workers, avoid obligations to them and still get multimillion jobs, Admir Menzilović, who has court rulings according to which a Turkish company has to pay him money, still hopes that one day he will exercise his rights.

For now, unfortunately, his optimism has no basis in reality, at least judging by all the indicators we came across during the research on this topic.

fokus.ba

Semira DEGIRMENDŽIĆ
Autor 30.3.2022. u 12:17