An İstanbul court has rejected a lawsuit filed by a pro-government businessman against Turkey’s main opposition leader, who referred to him along with four others as a “gang of five” due to lucrative public tenders they win, the Artı Gerçek news website reported.
Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Chairman Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu on many occasions referred to 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 as the “gang of five” for having won nearly all the large tenders during President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s time in office.
The lawsuit against Kılıçdaroğlu was filed by Cengiz at an İstanbul court, seeking TL 250,000 ($9,200) in non-pecuniary damages.
Genel Başkanımız Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu'nun; "Beşli Çete" eleştirisi nedeniyle Mehmet Cengiz tarafından (250.000 ₺ istemli) açılan davanın bugünkü duruşmasında, eleştirinin haklı dayanaklarını ortaya koyduk ve davayı kazandık.
İstanbul Anadolu 18 Asliye Hukuk Mahkemesi davayı…
— Celal ÇELİK (@CelikBaskan06) July 19, 2023
Kılıçdaroğlu’s lawyer Celal Çelik announced on Twitter on Wednesday that the court rejected the lawsuit against his client, which was filed due to his criticisms about the pro-government businessmen.
“We will continue to upset Cengiz and others,” he said.
The companies that comprise the gang of five are among the world’s top 10 private sponsors of public infrastructure projects by investment and region and by investment and primary sector for the years 1990 to 2020, according to World Bank data. The opposition parties accuse them of rigging tenders and claim they are Turkey’s biggest tax evaders.
In April 2022 Erdoğan, who frequently sues opposition politicians due to their criticisms about him, also sued Kılıçdaroğlu due to his “gang of five” remarks, accusing him of not understanding the logic behind the build-operate-transfer model, which is adopted in giant projects taken on by the pro-government businessmen and explained how the model helps the state to save money.
Opponents accuse Erdoğan of pursuing vanity projects that fill the coffers of pro-government companies while putting the government into deep and largely unnecessary debt, hence wasting taxpayers’ money.