A newly elected mayor from the main opposition party has revealed some irregularities, such as fund transfer to affiliated foundations and suspicious recruitments, conducted during the tenure of the previous mayor from the ruling party, critical daily Cumhuriyet reported on Friday.
Excessive benefits were allegedly granted to the Turkey Youth Foundation (TUGVA) and the Ensar Foundation, both affiliated with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his family, and people known for their close ties to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) were recruited in the municipality by the previous AKP mayor, Nevzat Dogan.
Fatma Kaplan Hurriyet, Izmit Municipality’s (IB) new mayor from Republican People’s Party (CHP), announced the undue conducts at a press conference in her office, confirming a local daily Kocaeli’s report.
“They [previous AKP municipal administration] provided those foundations with all municipal sources,” said the mayor.
According to Hurriyet, a 25-year-long protocol was signed between the IB and the TUGVA, granting that all the latter’s activities would be performed by the first, such as even constructing a new facility for the foundation.
“Even TUGVA’s slippers were bought by the IB, at a cost of 3,000 liras (around $515). We supplied the Ensar’s cost of a locksmith. The IB purchased everything [the foundations needed], including refurbishment, coffee, tee. There are a number of such foundations and societies whose expenditures were paid by the IB. [We are working on it] when finished, I will, of course, announce the exact expenditure figure, which we estimate around 1 million liras (around $172,000),” the mayor declared.
Hurriyet denied the allegations of firing people as soon as she took office as mayor and verified her claim by calling live the allegedly sacked personnel during the conference.
“There are 29 personnel who were recruited [by the AKP mayor] during the [March 31 mayoral] elections. If I want, I could fire all. However, we sacked only two who were recruited after the election [after April 1]. And we did not renew the contract of a city council member’s daughter who was recruited before the election, on March 29,” Hurriyet claimed.
In an effort to reflect her objectiveness, CHP’s Hurriyet alleged that there were many
AKP-relative municipal officials at the IB, such as a nephew of AKP’s Dogan, and a daughter-in-law of AKP’s deputy chair Emine Zeybek, who were still working.
Erdogan-affiliated foundations are at the center of criticism
Similar revelations of AKP irregularities were made public by CHP’s Istanbul then-mayor Ekrem Imamoglu who had discovered during his brief 18-day tenure as mayor before his dismissal from the mayoral post with Turkey’s election authority.
On May 6, the Supreme Electoral Council (YSK) canceled the result of March mayoral election in Istanbul following AKP-submitted complaints and ruled for a repeat of the election on June 23.
An audit report made public by Tarik Balyali, a CHP councilor, has revealed that a total of 847,592,858 lira ($145 million) was transferred to the foundations affiliated with Erdogan and his family by the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality (IBB) in one and a half years prior to the March 31 elections.
The report showed the funds were registered to be sent under categories such as rent, transportation, maintenance and repair, supplies, catering, and travel.
According to the report, the TUGVA, of which Erdogan’s son Bilal Erdogan is a High Advisory Board member, is one of the leading recipients, with receiving 74,3 million-worth municipal fund.
The Ensar Foundation was funded 29,797,240 lira by the IBB. The Ensar was involved in a child abuse scandal in 2016 when a teacher at the foundation was convicted of sexually abusing 45 school children who had been staying in the foundation’s accommodation in Karaman province from 2012 and 2015.
At the time, AKP received harsh criticism over its poor handling of and reaction to the case after imposing a broadcast ban of the incident in a bid to prevent the reporting of it.