AKP, CHP in war of words over off-shore transactions
A war of words between Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) intensified on Dec. 1, after the latter provided the media with documents purportedly revealing multi-million U.S. dollars-worth money transfers conducted by the close circle of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to an off-shore company.
“Whatever you hold in your hands, give it to the courts. The head of the main opposition party, who has nothing left to present for the future of the country, is trying to drag it over a cliff. You should stop this blame game,” Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım said in Istanbul on Dec 1.
His words came after CHP deputy and spokesman Bülent Tezcan publicized documents purportedly showing money transfers to an off-shore company called Bellway Ltd. to five individuals: Erdoğan’s brother Mustafa Erdoğan, his son Ahmet Burak Erdoğan, his brother-in-law Ziya İlgen, Burak Erdoğan’s father-in-law Osman Ketenci, and businessman Mustafa Gündoğan.
Tezcan said the company was founded in August 2011 in the tax-haven Isle of Man by Sıdkı Ayhan and it was transferred to Kasım Öztaş in November 2015 with capital of one pound sterling.
He added that a transfer worth $15 million was made a month after Öztaş bought the company, and within 20 days the company paid around $15 million to Erdoğan’s circle.
Referring to the company as a “shell corporation,” Tezcan said the transfer is “suspicious.”
“Two things come to mind, either money laundering or avoiding tax,” he said.
“Who is Kasım Öztaş? How could he gain enough financial power to be able to pay $15 million in 20 days? How much tax did Öztaş pay? How much did he earn? What is his revenue income and his assets?” Tezcan asked.
He said the fact that the names involved are part of Erdoğan’s close circle makes it “an issue to investigate and cannot be left unattended.”
“Everywhere in the world, official institutions investigate such dealings. It is not simple commercial business. It is nothing that can be explained within moral dimensions,” Tezcan added.
Meanwhile, Erdoğan and the names accused by the CHP on Dec. 1 filed a lawsuit against Kılıçdaroğlu over his accusations, demanding 1.5 million Turkish Liras ($380,000) in compensation.
On Nov. 28, CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu had shown banking documents in the CHP’s weekly parliamentary group meeting, accusing Erdoğan’s close circle of transferring U.S. dollars to an off-shore company.
The ruling AKP responded harshly to Kılıçdaroğlu, dismissing the documents as “fake” and saying they should either be either revealed fully to the public or handed to prosecutors for further investigation.
One day after the accusations were made, Erdoğan accused Kılıçdaroğlu of “lying,” saying the five people named “received money because they had sold their existing companies.”
“Money was not sent there,” he said.
In response, Tezcan asked a series of further questions.
“What company did they sell worth $15 million? Who are the partners of that company? What is its capital? How could a one-sterling company buy a $15 million company?” he said.
Yıldırım slams CHP leader
“All you do is to rant and rave in line with terrorist organizations’ plots,” he said.
Yıldırım urged Kılıçdaroğlu to submit all documents to the judicial authorities and to not “put Turkey’s political agenda on hold.”
“End your mud-slinging politics,” he added.
Ünal said the issue had already been referred to the judicial authorities by Erdoğan and the others named in the accusations and “it is now a subject of the judiciary.”
“The documents you have shown do not even prove your accusations. The documents are fake for us unless their quality and content is known to us and proves the initial accusations. The judiciary will decide,” he added.