Skip to main content

Trump transition official did not disclose ties with Turkish firm: Report

Bijan Kian, who was a partner with Michael Flynn, was involved in top intelligence appointments for Trump administration
Lobbying firms that work for foreign governments are required by US law to register with the Department of Justice (Wikicommons)

A close partner to Michael Flynn did not disclose his political work with a Turkish firm while operating as a member of Donald Trump’s transition team, the Associated Press reported on Tuesday.

Bijan Kian, an Iranian-American businessman, was a partner in the Flynn Intel Group and had business ties with an entity tied to the Turkish government.

A Trump transition official, speaking on condition on anonymity, said "[Kian] did not indicate that to us in his transition documents. We would have no reason to know."

According to the AP report, Kian was involved in the appointment of top intelligence officials, including CIA Director Mike Pompeo. 

Kian reportedly “connected Flynn” to the Turkish political firm Inovo BV in order to establish a $600,000 contract that included a “documentary and an op-ed aimed at an opponent of Turkey’s president Recept Tayyip Erdogan,” said the client and several others who requested anonymity because of the ongoing criminal investigation.

The client, Ekim Alptekin, also confirmed to AP that Kian worked for one of his Turkish companies at the same time he was working for Flynn Intel.

"Content-wise, it was Bijan handling the day-to-day details," said Ekim Alptekin, who runs Inovo BV.

In March, Department of Justice documents revealed that Inovo BV paid Flynn for lobbying efforts before Trump's victory in November.

Flynn was fired last month for failing to disclose that he discussed US sanctions on Russia in a phone call with the Russian ambassador before Trump took office. He later voluntarily registered with the Justice Department's Foreign Agent Registration Unit, the Associated Press reported.

The retired US general and his firm acknowledged lobbying efforts that "could be construed to have principally benefited the Republic of Turkey" from August to November of last year.

Lobbying firms that work for foreign governments are required by US law to register with the Department of Justice, but this regulation is rarely enforced, according to the AP report.

Alptekin, the Turkish businessman who hired Flynn's firm, said he disagrees with the former general's disclosure because he is not a part of the Turkish government.

"It would be different if I was working for the government of Turkey, but I am not taking directions from anyone in the government," he told AP.