Apr 26 2019

Turkey’s İşbank denies ruling party' accusations over role in electoral fraud

İşbank, one of Turkey’s largest banks, on Friday shared a written statement denying accusations from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) that its staff played a role in irregularities the AKP detected in local polls in Istanbul on March 31.

Turkey’s ruling party submitted an appeal to the Supreme Election Council (YSK) asking the annulment of the Istanbul vote, citing severe suspicions of fraud ,n electoral records and procedures. The YSK is expected to announce its decision on the appeal next week. If the YSK rules in favour of the appeal, it will also cancel the authorisation of Istanbul’s new mayor Ekrem İmamooğlu from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP).

The CHP holds a 28 per cent stake in İşbank, granted to it by the modern republic’s founder, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. It also controls four seats on the company’s board of directors. Ahead of the local polls on March 31, the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan repeatedly pledged to turn the operations of İşbank over to the Treasury.

Recep Özel, the AKP’s representative in the YSK, said on Thursday on Twitter that some employees of İşbank had been appointed as the heads of balloting committees in Istanbul on March 31, despite the fact that they are not public servants. “This is clearly electoral fraud,” the politician said.

In its written statement, İşbank said the decisions on balloting committees were made solely by the provincial elections councils in accordance with the law.

“Our bank is in no fashion involved in those processes and has not made any demands for our employees to be assigned in elections,” it said.

The bank said that provincial election councils appointed also employees of other banks to balloting committees, noting that the committee lists Özel shared on Twitter showed that this was the case.