Ali Yeşildağ, a former associate of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and a member of the influential Yeşildağ family, has claimed that Erdoğan’s personal fortune amounts to several hundred billion dollars in a video released by journalist Cevheri Güven on Sunday that contains a series of explosive revelations.
The allegations surfaced in the third installment of an expected seven-video series, where Yeşildağ details instances of corruption, illegal activities and misconduct involving the Turkish president and his family.
“Let me tell you something. Do you know what kind of a situation we’re in now? Tayyip Erdoğan has set up the largest criminal organization in the world. Al Capone, Vito Corleone, they’re nothing but stories [compared to Erdoğan]. There’s no law, no order; the prosecutor, police, gendarmerie, courts and ministers all belong to him. What can you say? You can’t even write about it,” Yeşildağ says in the video.
According to Yeşildağ’s account, in 2012 Tahsin Kaya of the Kaya family, former president of the Fenerbahçe sports club and owner of the Kayalar construction company, sought assistance from the Yeşildağ family to resolve a financial dispute with the Soysal family, owners of the Asya Motor company.
The dispute centered around a $20 million land sale in 2008, a parcel on the Bosporus, which was zoned for construction – a rare status at the time. The Kaya family later claimed they were owed an additional $50 million by the Soysal family.
Yeşildağ alleges that the Kaya family requested his help in taking the matter to then-prime minister Erdoğan, hoping he would pressure the Soysals into paying the additional amount. In return the Kaya family offered a $20 million bribe to be split between the Yeşildağ family and Erdoğan.
Initially, Erdoğan reportedly rejected the proposition but later changed his mind and ordered the Soysal family to pay the $50 million. When the family could not produce the funds, they were allegedly forced to sell the land to a company favored by Erdoğan. Yeşildağ suggests that a new billion-dollar hotel built on the land is now personally owned by the Turkish president. Yeşildağ claims that $20 million of this sum was to be divided among himself, his brother Hasan and Erdoğan. But he later found out Erdoğan’s brother Mustafa Erdoğan had taken his share.
In the same video Yeşildağ also accuses Erdoğan’s brother, Mustafa Erdoğan, of engaging in sexual misconduct with employees, which allegedly led to a physical altercation between Mustafa and Burak Erdoğan, the president’s son. Yeşildağ claims that Burak Erdoğan, upon learning of the encounters, severely beat Mustafa, who subsequently received further physical punishment from President Erdoğan himself.
These allegations follow Yeşildağ’s previous claims, in which he detailed how Erdoğan pocketed $1 billion in a 2007 tender and exposed a corruption scheme involving $3.5 billion worth of EU funds allocated for the improvement of agriculture. A Twitter handle with his name, which he denies operating, provided several documents to support these allegations.
In the first video, released on Friday, Yeşildağ accused Erdoğan of siphoning off $1 billion from a public tender for the operation of an airport in the country’s Antalya province.
Yeşildağ claims Erdoğan manipulated the tender to ensure that the contract was awarded to a company owned by one of his close associates, who then channeled a portion of the funds to Erdoğan.
In the second video, released on Saturday, Yeşildağ revealed a corruption scheme involving the misappropriation of $3.5 billion worth of European Union funds earmarked for the improvement of Turkey’s agriculture sector. He alleges that then-minister of agriculture Mehdi Eker, along with his family and close associates, established a network of shell companies to divert the funds for their personal enrichment.
In addition to Yeşildağ’s recent allegations, two other individuals have previously released videos exposing President Erdoğan’s alleged corruption and criminal activities. Sedat Peker, a mafia boss living in exile in the United Arab Emirates, and Muhammed Yakut, a Kurdish businessman, have both used their platforms to reveal information about the president’s connections to criminal networks and his involvement in various illegal enterprises.
While Peker and Yakut have gained notoriety for their roles in organized crime, Yeşildağ is different as he is a member of the influential Yeşildağ family, which has a longstanding relationship with Erdoğan. Hasan Yeşildağ, the family’s patriarch, served as Erdoğan’s bodyguard during the latter’s imprisonment in 1999, and the family’s Etiler Ulus Cafe has become a popular meeting spot for the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government and state bureaucracy, including the Erdoğan family.
The Yeşildağ brothers have been embroiled in various controversies in the past, with Hasan Yeşildağ having been implicated in the assassination of Abdi İpekçi and having faced accusations of criminal conduct by Peker.
Turkey’s standing in the 2022 Corruption Perceptions Index has fallen to its lowest point in a decade, with the nation ranking 101st out of 180 countries. This decline can be traced back to the late 2013 corruption investigations that implicated Erdoğan’s inner circle, which the government subsequently suppressed.
The recent videos by Yeşildağ have surfaced just ahead of the presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled for May 14, potentially impacting the outcome as Erdoğan’s administration grapples with an economic crisis and high inflation.
Investigative journalist Güven, who posted the video on his YouTube channel, is a vocal critic of Erdoğan and is currently living in exile in Germany. With millions of viewers tuning in to Güven’s exposés on the Turkish government’s corruption and questionable dealings, these videos are likely to generate significant public interest and debate as the elections draw nearer.