Erdoğan files TL 2 million lawsuit against opposition leader for offshore wealth claims

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (L) greets the leader of the Republican People's Party Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu (R) during a rally held to protest against the July 15 failed coup on at Yenikapi district of Istanbul on August 7, 2016. / AFP PHOTO /

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has filed a lawsuit against the head of the country’s main opposition party for TL 2 million ($273,000) in damages over allegations he made in a newspaper interview about the president’s offshore wealth, thenational.ae news website reported.

The suit is the latest and by far the largest claim for damages brought by Erdoğan and his family against Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, leader of the Republican People’s Party (CHP).

Erdoğan’s lawyer, Ahmet Özel, said the case was being brought for “lies and slanderous insults” Kılıçdaroğlu made in an interview published in Cumhuriyet on Monday.

“We are sure that — as he couldn’t before — he will again be unable to prove any of his unfounded claims,” Özel said in a statement. “However, he will continue his tactic of mudslinging. In this context, we have submitted the necessary criminal complaint to the relevant authorities.”

He also said, “Once again, we stress that the president of the Republic of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and his family members do not have any money abroad.”

In the interview Kılıçdaroğlu accused the Erdogan family of having “cheated Turkey” by not paying taxes. “If the Erdoğan family loves the country, let it bring its overseas fortune to Turkey. They have billions,” he said.

Kılıçdaroğlu, who has led the CHP since 2010, also referred to allegations he first made three years ago in which he claimed Erdoğan’s brother and son had been involved in sending millions of dollars to the Isle of Man, an offshore tax haven in the Irish Sea.

He said Erdoğan’s family transferred $15 million to a company called Bellway Limited, producing bank documents allegedly demonstrating the payments. Erdoğan denied the accusations, saying “not a single penny” had gone abroad.

In July of this year two court decisions ordered Kılıçdaroğlu to pay TL 556,000 in damages relating to the allegations.

Some opposition deputies said proposals for legal reform introduced in June are aimed at covering up such cases by making them subject to confidentiality orders.

Last year, the CHP established a fund to pay compensation claims made against its members. At about the same time, it was reported that Kılıçdaroğlu had sold his summer house to cover the costs of cases brought against him.

Tens of thousands of people have been prosecuted for insulting the president, an offense that can carry a sentence of up to four years in jail.

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