Germany denies links to Turkish foundations accused of corruption

The German government has denied cooperating with Turkish charities accused of corruption, tax evasion, and other crimes, Deutsche Welle Turkish said.

In response to questions tabled by opposition Left Party parliamentarian Ulla Jelpke, the German government said it has no connection to the Ensar Foundation, which has been mired in allegations of child sexual abuse and is linked to the TÜRGEV and Türken Foundations, which have faced allegations of tax evasion and corruption.

The German government also stated that it had followed allegations of corruption against TÜRGEV and Türken, and that it was known that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s daughter Esra Albayrak and his son Bilal Erdoğan were in executive positions at the foundations.

Jelpke has also demanded that the German government end its cooperation with the Turkish Red Crescent, which has been accused of facilitating tax evasion and of having links to the Ensar Foundation.

The questions were prompted by recent reports that the Turkish Red Crescent had received nearly 51 million liras between 2015 and 2019 in conditional donations that allowed donors to bypass income tax payments.

The Turkish Red Crescent had received an $8-million donation from Başkentgaz, an energy company that supplies Turkey’s capital city. Turkish opposition politicians have accused Başkentgaz of using the Red Crescent in a complex web of tax evasion, while some have said the transfer of large sums to government-linked foundations amounted to corruption.

The German government said it had provided aid to the Turkish Red Crescent to support refugees.

Donations to the Red Crescent are 100-percent tax deductible, while donations to other charities receive a tax rebate of just 5 percent. Başkentgaz’s donation was made on the condition that more than $7.9 million of it would be passed on to Türken, a foundation with close ties to the Turkish government, to be used to build a student dormitory in New York.

The Türken Foundation was set up by the Ensar Foundation - a religious organisation that provides dorms and education for children – and TÜRGEV, an educational foundation founded in 1996 by Erdoğan, whose daughter Esra Albayrak currently sits on its executive board.

Ensar enjoys the support of the Turkish government despite being embroiled in a child abuse scandal affecting dozens of boys.

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