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Opposition leader to pay damages to Erdoğan over allegations of fraud in public tender

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A Turkish court has ordered Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu to pay damages in the amount of TL 50,000 ($2,700) to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan due to Kılıçdaroğlu’s claims of corruption in a public tender, according to a statement from one of Kılıçdaroğlu’s lawyers.

Lawyer Celal Çelik announced on Twitter on Wednesday that the court ruled in favor of Erdoğan without collecting any evidence and without considering their request for the recusal of the judge.

Erdoğan sued Kılıçdaroğlu in January seeking TL 250,000 ($13,500) in non-pecuniary damages due to a video the CHP leader posted on social media the same month in which he accused Erdoğan of causing the state to sustain a loss of $460 million by awarding a TL 9.449 billion ($695 million) tender to a pro-government holding in 2020.

According to Kılıçdaroğlu, the tender held by the government in April 2018 was participated in by 15 companies, one of which won with a bid of TL 3.198 billion ($235 million).

“But the tender wasn’t awarded to the winning company because it wasn’t one of the gang of five,” the CHP leader said, referring to the five businessmen and their companies who have won nearly all the large tenders during Erdoğan’s time in office.

Cengiz Holding Chair Mehmet Cengiz, Limak Holding CEO Nihat Özdemir, MNG Holding Chairman Mehmet Nazif Günal, Kolin Construction CEO Naci Koloğlu and Kalyon Construction Chair Cemal Kalyoncu comprise the so-called gang of five.

“The same tender was held again. This time, the contract was awarded to [one of the] gang of five for TL 9.449 billion [$695 million] on August 21, 2020,” Kılıçdaroğlu said, adding: “Do you understand the reason why [Erdoğan] signed [the contract this time]? It’s because of the [more than] TL 6 billion [price] difference.”

Following Kılıçdaroğlu’s claims, journalist Ozan Gündoğdu explained on Twitter that the tender the CHP leader was talking about was for the Bursa Osmaneli High Standard Railway Project, awarded to Kalyon Construction, adding that the company was granted a tax exemption for the amount it was awarded for the project.

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