Turkish opposition leader has resurrected corruption allegations against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, showing documents that allegedly proved his family’s wealth stored in an offshore company and called for his resignation, a chilling revelation for a president preparing for 2019 elections.
Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the leader of the largest opposition party CHP, announced on Tuesday what he called “bank receipts” of large transfers to a company called Beybel. The company is registered in the Isle of Man, a self-ruling British dependency, and a tax haven. It was not clear who leaked the documents to Mr. Kilicdaroglu. And it was not immediately clear if the bank receipts were authentic.
Since Mr. Kilicdaroglu accused the president’s family of accumulating wealth in offshore accounts, the government has been unusually defiant. Mr. Erdogan challenged the opposition leader last week, daring him to “show the proof and I will quit politics.” The pro-government media defamed the opposition leader’s allegations, calling the documents “fabricated” even before they were unveiled.
Mr. Erdogan also pressed charges against Mr. Kilicdaroglu, seeking TL 1.5 million in damages (Mr. Kilicdaroglu mockingly said he was scared of it).
Before Mr. Kilicdaroglu brandished bank receipts of wire transfers to the Isle of Man, he urged Mr. Erdogan to listen to him with his doctor present. He said the offshore company was first registered to Sidki Ayan in 2011 and then months later to Kasim Oztas, without revealing their relationship with Mr. Erdogan and only claiming that the president knows these people very well.
Here are some of the bank transfers Mr. Kilicdaroglu announced:
Ziya Ilgen (Mr. Erdogan’s brother-in-law)
— $2,500,000 transfer to Belbey on Dec. 15, 2011.
— $1,250,000 transfer to Belbey on Dec. 26, 2011
Mustafa Erdogan (Mr. Erdogan’s brother)
— $2,500,000 transfer to Bellway on Dec. 15, 2011.
— $1,250,000 transfer to Bellway on Dec. 26, 2011
Osman Ketenci (Mr. Erdogan’s father-in-law)
— $1,250,000 transfer to Bellway on Dec. 27, 2011
— $1,000,000 transfer to Bellway on Dec. 28, 2011
Mustafa Gundogan (Mr. Erdogan’s chief clerk)
— $1,250,000 transfer to Bellway (no date)
— $250,000 transfer to Bellway on Dec. 28, 2011.
Ahmet Burak Erdogan (Mr. Erdogan’s son)
— $1,450,000 transfer to Bellway on Dec. 29, 2011.
— $2,300,000 transfer to Bellway on Jan. 4, 2012.
The revelations by Mr. Kilicdaroglu comes at a time of renewed interest in a separate corruption scandal embroiled Mr. Erdogan and his inner circle four years ago. In December 2013, the Turkish police arrested Iranian gold trader Reza Zarrab, sons of three ministers and sought the arrest of Mr. Erdogan’s son in a corruption scheme that benefitted Iran under U.S.-led sanctions. Mr. Erdogan’s government stepped in to release the suspects, including Mr. Zarrab, and dropped the investigation.
Mr. Zarrab is now in a U.S. federal custody and pleaded guilty on Tuesday to charges that he busted U.S. sanctions on Iran. His possible cooperation with U.S. authorities may bring into the surface embarrassing revelations about the Turkish government.
Mr. Erdogan is not the only one battling against these allegations. Paradise Papers leaked hidden wealth of Prime Minister Binali Yildirim stored in an offshore account in Malta.