ANKARA - Turkish Daily News
The leader of the main opposition Republican People's Party, or CHP, yesterday accused Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of involvement in a corruption case against German company the Lighthouse Foundation.
In an interview with private NTV news channel, Deniz Baykal urged the prime minister to comment on accusations that the Turkish government interfered with the case by pressuring Germany to release the suspects under arrest.
Turkey's attempts to apply political pressure for the benefit of the suspects was noted in the indictment, which emphasized the connection between the fraudulent company owners and the religious �National Vision� movement and ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP.
While the allegation was denied by the suspect's contacts in Turkey, new allegations regarding the case have surfaced at Frankfurt's Criminal Court of General Jurisdiction, where the case is being tried.
'We have no ties'
The Lighthouse Foundation's Turkey director, Engin Yılmaz, said the foundation had no branches or representatives in other countries. But regarding Yılmaz's claim that the foundation did not have ties with any other organizations, the expert's report on the German Lighthouse Foundation contained information detailing nearly 7 million euros transferred to the Turkish foundation.
The report also stated that, despite the denial of the board of Beyaz Holding, large amounts of money were also transferred there.
Close relations with the AKP
In the indictment presented by the prosecutor some suspects and witnesses noted the closeness of the German Lighthouse Foundation's administration with the AKP.
In suspect Ermiş' evaluation, found in the indictment's political section, he noted, "The company's owners were really friendly with the governing party in Turkey; they were really close to the 'National Vision' and AKP party line."
Despite a lack of concrete examples in the indictment, page 42 alleged that the government had taken action for the suspect's benefit: "There were attempts by the Turkish government to apply political pressure, particularly an attempt to release the suspects from arrest."
Suspect Gürhan, accused of illegally transferring 41 million euros from the German foundation, was revealed to have previously been a �National Vision� member. Gürhan, who admitted membership in the organization in his courtroom confession, was general manager of Yimpaş Group's Media 7 GmbH and Yimpaş Tel-International companies in Germany.
Baykal spoke about Gürhan's confessions, in which the suspect also said he received the money in order to transfer it to Erdoğan. �I do not know whether Mehmet Gürhan gave the money to the PM or not. What is important is that some people around the PM accepted that money was collected in order to give it to him. The matter should be cleared up,� he argued.
Later, upon Yimpaş' bankruptcy, Gürhan emptied out the Media 7 company, which was broadcasting in Europe under the name Kanal 7 Int and handed it over to Euro 7, where he resumed his duty as general manager. Here, he established the German Lighthouse Foundation e.V. and registered in the Frankfurt organizations register.
Witness reports noted that the thousands of Turks who had given money to companies like Yimpaş and Kombassan were in fact the same people who had bought stock for the creation of Kanal 7 Int and had donated Islamic alms to the Lighthouse Foundation.
The report submitted to court by the financial audit company PricewaterhouseCoopers, revealed that 14 million euros had been sent to Turkey via couriers. The audit company reported that the donated money went to Beyaz Holding in Turkey and that just over 14 million of the 40 million euros collected by the Lighthouse Foundation e.V. were in sent in cash.
The chairman of the board of directors of Kanal 7, Zekeriya Karaman, who was the key partner in several companies in Germany and Turkey tied to the main company, named "Ak," was a key player in media-trade-aid-politics circles.
During the court's third hearing, Ermiş said that of the 1.8 million sent to Beyaz Holding, 900,000 had been personally delivered by Gürhan to Karaman in Istanbul. An April 2007 police raid showed that Karaman had been inspecting the foundation's bank accounts via the Internet.