Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan today angrily denounced the main opposition leader for claiming that Erdogan’s family and associates had transferred millions of dollars to the Isle of Man to avoid paying tax, saying that his rival would “pay the price”.
Turkish newspaper Hurriyet reported yesterday that the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu, pictured left, had revealed that Erdogan’s close circle – including his brother, his son and his executive assistant – had made transactions worth around £11m (US$15m) to an offshore company called Bellway Limited on “the tax haven Isle of Man”.
The transactions, said Kilicdaroglu, had occurred in December 2011 and January 2012.
He had first challenged the president on November 21, asking him: “Do you know that your children, your brother-in-law, your son’s father-in-law, your brother, and your former executive assistant have deposited millions of U.S. dollars with a company based in off-shore tax-havens?”
In the absence of substantiation at that time for these allegations, Ergdogan said that he had instructed lawyers to sue.
Then a week later, on November 28, Kilicdaroglu brandished documents during a speech, as reported by Hurriyet, saying, “We have all the records of this company. We also have all the documents of the financial transactions.”
He said that he had been handed the documents by “bureaucrats who love their country”.
‘Relentless and specific’ list of charges
The charges were relentless and specific, according to the newspaper, with Kilicdaroglu stating that Bellway Limited was founded on 1 Aug 2011, with Sitki Ayan as its sole board member and “a one pound sterling founding capital.”
“There are official records showing that it belongs to him both from Turkey and from the Isle of Man,” he said, adding that the company was transferred to Kazım Öztaş on 15 November 15, 2011.
“On Dec. 15, 2011, Ziya Ilgen, the brother-in-law of [President] Erdogan, sent US$2.5m to Bellway Ltd, while Mustafa Erdogan, the [president’s] brother, sent US$2.5m. Why did your brother send $2.5m there?”Kilicdaroglu asked, before going on to list all the transactions in the documents.
“On 26 December 2011 Ziya Ilgen sent US$1.25m and Mustafa Erdogan sent US$1.25m.
“On 27 December 2011 Osman Ketenci, the father-in-law of Burak Erdogan, sent US$1.25m.
“On 27 December 2011 Mustafa Gundogan, a former executive assistant, sent US$1.25m.
“On 28 December 2011 Mustafa Gundogan sent US$250,000.
“On Dec. 28, 2011 Osman Ketenci sent $1 million.
“On Dec. 29, 2011 Ahmet Burak Erdogan, the son, sent $1.45 million.
“On Jan. 4 2012 Ahmet Burak Erdogan sent US$2.3m.
“We have the SWIFT documents of these transactions … We also have bank receipts,” said Kilicdaroglu.
The Ankara public prosecutor’s office today said that it had opened an investigation into Kilicdaroglu’s allegations and has requested the documents from the CHP, the private Dogan news agency reported.
Many will see this as a brave move by the newspaper, since Erdogan famously clamped down on the press in a power-grab two years ago, and is not seen as a supporter of press freedom, as the Guardian media analyst Roy Greenslade explained last year in a column.
In response, Erogan today angrily told members of the ruling Justice and Development Party that Justice and Development Party that Kilicdaroglu “will pay the price for this attack”.