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Turkey’s central banker under investigation over alleged plagiarism in Ph.D. thesis

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Turkish Central Bank Governor Şahap Kavcıoğlu is being investigated following allegations that he used plagiarized data in his doctoral thesis back in 2003, Bloomberg reported on Thursday, citing an official at İstanbul’s Marmara University.

Fifty-four-year-old Kavcıoğlu, an economist and former lawmaker from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), was appointed central bank governor by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on March 20, 2021.

He replaced Naci Ağbal, who was dismissed shortly after the central bank hiked its main interest rate by a greater-than-expected 200 basis points, from 17 to 19 percent, since Erdoğan is a strong opponent of high interest rates.

Ömer Akgiray, chief of the Marmara University Publication Ethics Board, on Thursday told Bloomberg via an e-mail that Kavcıoğlu was being investigated over allegations of plagiarism in line with a board directive.

The allegations against the central banker were first reported on March 22 by the Birgün newspaper. After weeks of silence on the part of Kavcıoğlu, Birgün on May 24 posed several questions to Turkey’s Higher Education Board (YÖK) through the Presidential Communications Center (CİMER).

Akgiray on Wednesday told the paper that the plagiarism claims were discussed on June 26 and that a rapporteur had been appointed to investigate them.

According to Birgün the 2003 thesis titled “Application for the Management, Solution and Monitoring of Problematic Loans in Commercial Banks” appears to borrow entire sections from a report published by the central bank in 2001 without proper footnotes or citations.

Murat Uysal, one of Kavcıoğlu’s predecessors as governor, also faced plagiarism allegations in 2019 over a thesis he wrote on inflation targeting.

The theses of both officials were overseen by the same adviser, Prof. Dr. Erişah Arıcan, who is currently serving as CEO of the İstanbul Stock Exchange and deputy chair of Turkey’s Wealth Fund.

Arıcan, who also oversaw the Ph.D. thesis of Erdoğan’s son-in-law and then-Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak back in 2010, allegedly wrote it herself.

In one of the e-mails belonging to Albayrak, nearly 58,000 of which were released by Wikileaks in 2016, Arıcan on Sept. 27, 2010 tells Albayrak she has finished most of his Ph.D. thesis, asks him to fill in some missing parts and proposes they write the conclusion together.

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