A bitter divorce is bringing out its share of allegations and mud-slinging— the latest involving Chobani’s recipe secrets for its top-selling yogurt. Hamdi Ulukaya, founder of the Chobani Greek yogurt company and “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 ex-wife, Ayse Giray, alleges that Ulukaya “travelled to Europe” to meet the ex-Fage employee, whom he paid 30,000 euros, or about $40,000, based on exchange rates.
Other claims to emerge in the divorce include:
• 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.
• Ulukaya admitted to Giray’s lawyers that he wrote the note promising her a 53 percent stake, but later said it was a “hypothetical transaction designed to defraud Turkish banks.”
• 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.
• Ulukaya — 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.