Greece Gives Citizenship to Man Turkey Wants Arrested for Illegal Gambling

Despite an international arrest warrant in place, Greece has made a bold move. It granted honorary citizenship to Yasam Ayavefe, a man Turkey wants brought to justice for operating an illegal online gambling site.

Yasam Ayavefe
Yasam Ayavefe
Yasam Ayavefe in an undated photo. Turkey wants to extradite him from Greece for illegal gambling, but Greece issued him an honorary citizenship, instead. (Image: Turkey Posts English)

Ayavefe is active in business in the occupied areas of Cyprus. The portfolio he details on his website includes investments in luxurious apartment buildings, a hotel and a casino in Kyrenia.

As a result of his involvement, Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou and Minister of the Interior Makis Voridis signed the Presidential Decree granting citizenship on June 14. This is despite an arrest record in Greece, as well as an Interpol red notice issued on behalf of Turkey in 2019.

Greece Harbors Fugitive

The decision, according to the Government Gazette, was based on the fact that Ayavefe has contributed substantially with his sponsorships of health supplies, essentials and food to the effective treatment of the COVID-19 pandemic at the most critical moment.” He allegedly kept Greece’s National Health System from collapsing, helping the country locate resources and medical supplies.

In addition, with his investments and the development of his business activity in the country, he has contributed to the support of the Greek economy. He accomplished this through the promotion of the country in international economic circles. As a result, Greece feels that giving him citizenship will further strengthen its economy.

It isn’t clear if Turkey has presented an official extradition request to Greece. However, if it does, the odds that it is approved are slim. Greece and Turkey don’t have the best relationship.

After Turkish soldiers participated in a failed coup in their country in 2016, they sought refuge in Greece. However, when Turkey repeatedly tried to request extradition, Greece rejected the requests.

Ayavefe reportedly operated several gambling websites out of Turkey, including Hodemturk, Adapoker, Applecom and Apllege. However, their algorithms were allegedly fixed so that players would consistently lose.

A History of Deception

Ayavefe was born in Adana, Turkey, in 1983, according to Greece’s description of his honorary naturalization. He describes himself on his personal website as a “serial entrepreneur” and a philanthropist. He later formed and became chairman of the board of Milaya Capital Limited, a London-based venture capital firm.

Ayavefe launched his first initiatives in the Turkish city of Mersin and on the island of Cyprus, where he specialized in telecommunications programming and cybersecurity. After that, he began his investment adventure in Cyprus, which he continued in Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, the Balkans and the UK.

He also invested in a FinTech company that initially had some problems with the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). The company was able to overcome those issues. As it worked out its problems, Ayavefe separated himself from the firm. He was also featured in Forbes How A Tech Entrepreneur Broke Records With A $189M Valuation Pre-Launch On The Road To $1B.

Ayavefe, according to the local press, is one of the benefactors in the de facto “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus” (TRNC). This is because of a series of donations he made during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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