Ponzi scheme between Istanbul municipality and Erdoğan’s son’s foundation - columnist
Istanbul’s Okçular Archery Foundation, a project of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s son, has been supported by the resources of Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality since its founding, said columnist Murat Ağırel in nationalist Yeniçağ daily on Saturday.
The columnist’s claim arrives amid increasing reports of municipality funds transferred to charities linked to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) following the opposition’s victory of the Istanbul and Ankara municipalities in the March 31 local polls.
The Okçular foundation was established in 2012, with assets worth 70,000 lira ($11,781). The founders of the foundation, along with Erdoğan’s son Bilal Erdoğan, include Hüseyin Ersan Topbaş, the former AKP Istanbul mayor Kadir Topbaş’s son, Ahmet Misbah Demircan, the former AKP mayor of Istanbul’s Beyoğlu district, and Haydar Ali Yıldız, AKP’s freshly-elected Beyoğlu mayor.
The AKP linked names that sit on the foundation’s executive board include Abdullah Güler, an AKP Istanbul municipal council member, who was on the top of the news last week, after he filed a complaint against Istanbul’s new mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu’s order to copy the data of the municipality and its associate companies.
Yusuf Esenkal, the producer of Erdoğan’s favourite television series “Payitaht Abdullah” also is a member of the board. The series is broadcast by state-run TRT and known for giving messages to AKP supporters on current political issues.
According to a leaked report on Istanbul municipality’s transfers to charities, the Okçular foundation received an amount of 16,64 million lira ($2.95 million) from the municipality since its foundation.
Yet, this is figure covers only a part of the financial support provided by the municipality to the foundation Ağırel said.
Just four days after the local polls on March 31, Metro Inc., the municipality’s transportation company, and the foundation’s commercial enterprise signed a 500,000 lira ($84,153) contract for a project on providing archery training, according to Ağırel. The columnist said that the contract did not even clarify how many people would receive training with that amount.
In fact, the company and the foundation also signed a contract in 2018 for archery training, according to which the Okçular Foundation received 375,000 lira ($63,115).
The Okçular Foundation also organises the “Conquest Cup”, an event commemorating the Ottoman conquest of Istanbul. It received an additional 375,000 lira in 2018 for the event through a contract signed with the municipality’s Istanbul Tree and Landscape Inc. for promotional activities, Ağırel said.