Thursday, April 24, 2008

Charges of AKP Corruption

From Gareth Jenkins:
On April 22, it was announced that two Turkish state-owned banks had stepped in to provide $750 million in loans to Calik Holding, which is owned by a close friend of Prime Minister RecepTayyip Erdogan, in order to enable it to purchase the second largest media group in Turkey.

On December 5, 2007, the Turkuaz Media Group, which is owned by Calik Holding, successfully bid $1.1 billion for the Sabah-ATV media group. Sabah-ATV had originally been owned by Dinc Bilgin, who had been one of Turkey’s leading press barons in the 1990s. Together with several others of Bilgin’s assets, his media companies had been seized by the authorities when the collapse of a bank he owned left him in heavily in debt to the Turkish state.

The Calik Group is owned by Ahmet Calik, a long-time close associate of Erdogan. The group’s assets have more than quadrupled since the Justice and Development Party (AKP) first came to power in November 2002 and are currently estimated at around $2.5 billion. In March 2007, Calik appointed Berat Albayrak, Erdogan’s 26 year-old son-in-law, as the holding’s general manager.

The Calik Group is mostly active in construction, energy and bidding for state contracts. The Sabah-ATV media group consists of one national TV channel (ATV), one radio station, five newspapers (including Sabah, one of Turkey’s leading dailies) and eight magazines. In the heavily politicized Turkish media, the Sabah-ATV group had traditionally been on the liberal, center-left and a frequent critic of the AKP and other religiously-oriented political parties.

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