Charity linked to Erdogan's son received $100 mn in aid: Govt

AFP , Thursday 10 Apr 2014

Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan addresses members of parliament from his ruling AKP Party (AKP) during a meeting at the Turkish parliament in Ankara April 16, 2013 (Photo: Reuters)

A charity at which Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's son sits on the board, received more than $100 million of aid over a four-year period, the government said on Thursday amid graft claims roiling the government.

In a written answer to a parliamentary question, Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said that Turgev received $99 million (72 million euros) of financial aid from abroad between 2008 and 2012.

Domestic donations to Turgev -- which builds and runs student residences -- totalled $14 million, Arinc added, without disclosing the sources of the funds.

The revelation comes after dozens of Erdogan's key business and political allies were rounded up in December over allegations of bribery.

Prosecutors in charge of the probe, who have since been sacked, suspected Erdogan's son Bilal of using the charity as a conduit for graft and bribery.

Erdogan, a former Istanbul mayor, has firmly rejected the allegations and instead claimed that the graft probe was targeting him through his son Bilal's activities.

But the now-stalled probe implicated Erdogan directly in February after the prime minister could allegedly be heard in a leaked audio tape talking to Bilal about hiding 30 million euros on the day of the December police raids.

Erdogan blames his woes on a former ally, US-based preacher Fetullah Gulen, who wields considerable influence in the state apparatus.

The ruling Islamic-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP) scored a crushing victory in last month's local elections, winning the key prizes of Istanbul and Ankara in votes seen as a referendum on the 11-year-rule of Erdogan.

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