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Turkish Opposition Claims Erdogan's Family Hid Money Offshore

  • Dorian Jones

FILE - Turkey's main opposition Republican People's Party leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu speaks at the Turkish parliament in Ankara, Turkey, July 15, 2017.

The leader of Turkey's main opposition has produced what he claims is evidence of millions of dollars held in offshore bank accounts linked to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

As Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the head of the opposition Republican People's Party, began addressing parliament regarding the alleged offshore accounts, the state broadcaster cut the transmission.

Images of the parliament were replaced by a studio, with a banner that read "Hot News." However, smaller TV channels continued their broadcasts.

Kilicdaroglu then listed offshore bank transfers totaling $15 million, which he claimed were made by Erdogan's inner political circle and family, including one of the president's sons and a brother. All alleged payments were made to an account on the Isle of Man, a British Crown dependency in the Irish Sea renowned for offshore banking.

"We have all the records of this company," Kilicdaroglu said. "We also have all the documents of the financial transactions. … We also have bank receipts."

Kilicdaroglu's deputies called for the president to resign.

The opposition leader's speech was in response to Erdogan saying he would quit if it was proven that even one cent had been transferred to an offshore bank by his family members. Senior members of Erdogan's ruling AK Party attacked Kilicdaroglu's speech, calling it fake news and slanderous lies.

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses his supporters at the parliament in Ankara, Turkey, Nov. 28. 2017.
Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses his supporters at the parliament in Ankara, Turkey, Nov. 28. 2017.

In a sign that the political feud could escalate further, Erdogan — in a speech to parliament Tuesday — called Kilicdaroglu's party the country's "main treason party" and warned the opposition leader there would be consequences.

"We will continue to seek justice through legal means," Erdogan said. "We will no longer turn the other cheek. If you hit me, you must be ready to be hit."

The uproar comes as a trial was starting in New York in a case against the deputy head of a Turkish bank accused of trying to circumvent U.S. sanctions against Iran by funneling Iranian money through the U.S. financial system.

U.S. prosecutors also have indicted a former Turkish minister who remains at large and is closely linked to Erdogan. The main defendant in the case is Reza Zarrab, a Turkish Iranian gold trader who pleaded guilty and agreed to testify for the prosecution. The case has caused alarm among Turkish leaders amid concerns that it could eventually implicate Erdogan or his family. The Turkish president's spokesman, Ibrahim Kalin, says the case was politically motivated.

On Tuesday, arrest warrants were issued for a former opposition member of parliament and a former state official for providing what prosecutors say was "fake" evidence to the sanction-busting trial.

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