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Pro-Erdoğan ex-wrestler expelled from executive board of state-run Vakıfbank

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Hamza Yerlikaya, the deputy youth and sports minister and a former Olympic wrestler whose appointment as a member of the executive board of Turkey’s state-run Vakıfbank in June led to harsh criticism due to suspicions about his competence, has been removed from the board, according to Turkish media outlets.

Yerlikaya’s appointment led to jokes and ridicule among Turkey’s social media users back then who pointed to the wrestler’s lack of knowledge and experience in banking issues.

Yerlikaya was also at the center of criticism when reports emerged in late 2020 about a court ruling in 2011 showing that he used a forged high school diploma to get into university. According to the court’s reasoned decision, Yerlikaya intentionally used the fake diploma based on evidence examined by the court.

Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its leader President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan are widely criticized for filling state posts with their cronies and eschewing merit-based assignments.

Erdoğan recently fired his third central bank governor in less than two years, causing a market upheaval that resulted in the Turkish currency plunging by as much as 14 percent this week.

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