Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu has read out in parliament the transcript of wiretapped conversations between then-prime minister and current President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his son Bilal Erdoğan that were leaked on the Internet during corruption investigations in late 2013, saying he will take them to court, local media reported on Tuesday.
The December 17-25 bribery and corruption investigations, which implicated the family members of four cabinet ministers as well as the children of Erdoğan, shook the country back in 2013.
As part of the first investigation, the sons of three then-ministers from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) were detained on Dec. 17, 2013. A week later another investigation involved Bilal Erdoğan.
Part of the transcript read out loud by Kılıçdaroğlu during his party’s group meeting on Tuesday included a conversation between Erdoğan and his son Bilal regarding secret money transfers to an offshore company based in the Isle of Man.
Turkey’s Supreme Court of Appeals last week overturned a 2020 decision ordering Kılıçdaroğlu to pay Erdoğan, his son Ahmet Burak Erdoğan, his uncle Ziya İlgen, his brother Mustafa Erdoğan, his son’s father-in-law Osman Ketenci and his friend and businessperson Mustafa Gündoğan a total of TL 197,000 ($13,500) in damages for his allegations that they had secretly transferred money to an offshore company based in the Isle of Man.
Kılıçdaroğlu alleged in a parliamentary group meeting in November 2017 that in 2011 the group had conducted transfers amounting to $18 million to an offshore company based in the Isle of Man, a tax haven. He produced SWIFT codes and bank receipts to back up his claims.
Before reading out the transcript, the CHP leader said: “Burak Erdoğan, Mustafa Erdoğan and Ziya İlgen established a company called ‘BUMEZ’ on the Isle of Man. That’s where the money comes from. I’m now reading you the conversation between Erdoğan and Bilal Erdoğan.”
Saying that he’ll also take the tapes to court, the CHP leader called on Erdoğan to resign, reiterating his earlier remarks that he would resign from the presidency if Kılıçdaroğlu proved his allegations regarding secret money transfers to an offshore company based in the Isle of Man.
“Could the people who rob the state become president? … You promised people, you said you’d quit [if the allegations were proven]. Then do what’s necessary,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.
Despite the scandal resulting in the resignation of the cabinet members, the 2013 investigation was dropped after prosecutors and police chiefs were removed from the case. Erdoğan, officials of the ruling AKP and the pro-government media have described the investigation as an attempt to overthrow the government, saying that the leaked recordings were “fabricated.”
Dismissing the investigations as a conspiracy against his government by the Gülen movement, a group inspired by Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen, Erdoğan designated the faith-based movement as a terrorist organization and began to target its members.
He locked up thousands, including many prosecutors, judges and police officers involved in the investigation.