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Chobani's Shady Ways

Turkish American Hamdi Ulukaya, founder of the Chobani Greek yogurt company, has long been in the sights of Greek yogurt makers who have repeatedly alleged that he stole the recipe and that he misappropriates the title of Greek yogurt.

Now it seems that his divorce from ex-wife, Ayse Giray, is bringing out facts that may actually lead to an avalanche of lawsuits. The bitter divorce proceedings are bringing out all sorts of allegations and mud-slinging— the one of most interest to Greeks involves Chobani’s recipe secrets for its top-selling yogurt. It seems the self-proclaimed “king of Greek yogurt”, bragged about stealing the recipe from his Greek rival FAGE, a shocking new court filing alleges.

The claim, made by the yogurt mogul’s alleges that Ulukaya “travelled to Europe” to meet an ex-Fage employee, whom he paid 30,000 euros.

Other claims to emerge in the divorce show that Ulukaya was so desperate for money when he launched his original company that he not only borrowed from his ex-wife, he also stole checks from his brother’s account and forged his brother’s signature.

The self proclaimed Turkish “king of Greek yogurt,” admitted to his ex-wife's lawyers that he wrote a note promising her a 53 percent stake, but later said it was a “hypothetical transaction designed to defraud Turkish banks.”

So far, Ulukaya was sued by his family of dairy farmers in Turkey in 2003, around the same time he was borrowing money from Giray. The lawsuit claimed that Ulukaya and his brother Bilal embezzled a check from the family business and threatened to use it unless they got $750,000.

The Turkish American businesman — who has been embraced by Gov. Andrew Cuomo for revitalizing rural areas of the state with a yogurt-fueled economy — paid the Fulton County district attorney $1 million to settle allegations that he ordered company employees to pour waste down the drains after shutting off the water sewage meter.