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Turkey's Erdogan names himself head of state wealth fund

Sunday September 16, 2018

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has put himself in charge of a $40-billion state wealth fund that he said failed to reach the "desired" goals. His son-in-law, Finance Minister Berat Albayrak, serves as deputy.

Turkey Wealth Fund, the state-backed financial entity which owns nearly half of Turkish Airlines and other stakes in over a dozen large companies, is now headed by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, according to the country's Official Gazette.

The value of the fund is estimated at $40 billion (€34.4 billion), and can be used to maintain pensions and welfare systems in times of crisis or to finance major projects.

Ankara set up the entity after the failed coup attempt in 2016. Within the last two years, the authorities transferred billions of state assets into the fund, including its stakes in Turkish airlines, Turk Telekom, and several major banks. The goal, according to Ankara, was to use it to invest in infrastructure and shore up financial markets.

Last September, however, Erdogan dismissed its chairman Mehmet Bostan, arguing that the results had fallen short of the "targeted and desired" outcome.

"We have decided that things cannot go on like this," Erdogan added.

'The man who has captured the state'

The government appointed Himmet Karadag, head of the Istanbul Stock Exchange, as acting chairman.

Since then, Erdogan has pushed through a controversial constitutional reform to give the president expansive new powers and he won the presidential election in June 2018. Last Wednesday, Erdogan reportedly appointed himself chairman and named Finance and Treasury Minister, Berat Albayrak, as deputy chief. Minister Albayrak is married to Erdogan's daughter. The president also named seven new board members as part of the overhaul.

Opposition politican Muharrem Ince, who ran against Erdogan, slammed the move on Twitter.

"The man who has captured the state… has now taken public companies prisoners," he said. "This desire to control everything will in the end give way to controlling nothing. And the whole country foots the bill."

Turkey has been facing a serious financial crisis for several months, with the lira losing about 40 percent of its value since the start of 2018.


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