Erdoğan's missing son-in-law turns up in Istanbul, columnist claims

Berat Albayrak, who disappeared from public life after resigning as treasury and finance minister in November, is in Turkey’s largest city of Istanbul, according to claims by Fatih Altaylı, a local columnist.

Albayrak, the son-in-law of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, spent time with his father in Trabzon, a city in Turkey’s northeast, in the days immediately following his shock departure, Altaylı said in a column for the Habertürk news website on Friday. He then spent a week in Qatar, he claimed.

Albayrak’s whereabouts have been steeped in mystery and scandal since he stepped down as head of Turkey’s economic team in the middle of a fresh bout of turmoil for the Turkish lira. Some media commentators speculated that he had travelled to London to establish a new life there, while others said he headed for the United States.

The former minister is looking for a mansion along the Asian side of Istanbul’s Bosporus straits, where he plans to establish a consultancy firm, according to Altaylı. He has yet to find a suitable property, he said.

Turkish opposition politicians and some leading media figures and analysts say the ex-minister should be held accountable for policies that led to a politically compromised central bank spending tens of billions of dollars of its foreign currency reserves defending the lira, which slumped to successive record lows last year. The bank’s net reserves are now deeply in negative territory.

“He’s not thinking of getting back into politics, at least at the moment,” a member of Erdoğan’s governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) said, Altaylı said. “He will do consultancy. He will provide consultancy services to large companies, to international firms.”

Altaylı did not say in his column whether he sought official confirmation for the information.

Erdoğan’s decision to sack and replace the governor of the central bank on Nov. 7 reportedly prompted Albayrak to step down. He resigned the next day via a statement published on his Instagram account and has yet to make any further public comments.   

(*Ahval is among media companies campaigning for the Turkish government and/or Albayrak’s family to make a public statement regarding the ex-minister’s whereabouts.)