$8 million donation to Turkish govt-linked charity missing from IRS records - opposition

Turkey's main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) has cast doubt on the Turkish Red Crescent's claims that it transferred nearly $8 million to a government-linked charity to build a student dorm in New York.

The CHP’s U.S. representative, Yurter Özcan, said in a circular to the CHP’s U.S members  that there was no sign of the donation in U.S. Internal Revenue Service records the party accessed. 

The $8 million donation which was made to the Turkish Red Crescent by Başkentgaz, the natural gas distributor in Ankara, has been a hot topic in Turkey since the beginning of the week.

The head of the Red Crescent, Kerem Kınık, confirmed on Wednesday that $7.9 million of this donation was later transferred to pro-Islamic Ensar Foundation that provides dorms and education for children, saying that conditional donations that allow donors to reduce their tax bills were routine practices. Ensar is supported by the Turkish government despite being embroiled in a child abuse scandal affecting dozens of children.

US-based Türken Foundation says it is using the donation to build a 21-storey student dormitory in Manhattan, New York City. But the CHP says there is no record of this donation reaching the charity.

“In fact, between June 2017 and June 2018, the total amount of donations received by Türken is only $1.5 million. Therefore, it is obvious that Turkish Red Crescent’s claim of their $7.9 million contribution to the Türken Foundation is simply inaccurate. Now the question remains: what happened to that donation?” said Özcan. 

Özcan said that if necessary, the CHP would file a lawsuit with the IRS to find the whereabouts of the missing donations. 

“This foundation, which was established six years ago, has not done much except an ongoing skyscraper construction project in New York and buying Muhammad Ali’s farm in Michigan. Whatever happened to the bursaries and other support they were allegedly going to provide?” Özcan said.