Fri, Feb 28, 2014 - Page 7 News List

Turkish prime minister targeted in second tape

Reuters, ANKARA

A second audio recording, presented as the voice of Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan asking his son not to accept an amount of money on offer in a business deal, but to hold out for more, was published on YouTube by an anonymous poster using a pseudonym on Wednesday.

Erdogan said a similar post on the video-sharing site on Monday, allegedly of him telling his son, Bilal, to dispose of large sums of cash as a graft investigation erupted, was faked by his political enemies.

“Don’t take it. Whatever he has promised us, he should bring this. If he is not going to bring that, there is no need,” says the voice on the latest recording, presented by a user under the pseudonym, “Haramzadeler,” as that of Erdogan.

“The others are bringing. Why can’t he bring? What do they think this business is? ... but don’t worry they will fall into our lap,” the voice says.

Reuters could not verify the authenticity of either recording.

“We are going to check whether the tapes are fake or not and no statement is planned at the moment,” a senior Turkish government official told reporters.

The recordings, which appeared within days of the Turkish AK Party’s official launch of a campaign for Turkish local elections at the end of March, are the latest and potentially most damaging allegations in a graft scandal that Erdogan has cast as concocted to unseat him.

No company names are mentioned in Wednesday’s audio recording, but the voice purportedly of Bilal Erdogan refers to a “Mr. Sitki,” saying he could not carry out a transaction.

An accompanying text within the YouTube clip says the reference is to Sitki Ayan, the chairman of Istanbul-based company Turang Transit Tasimacilik. The basis for that conclusion was not clear.

It could not immediately be determined what ties, if any, Turang or its chairman have to the Erdogan family.

Telephone calls by reporters to the offices of Turang seeking comment were not immediately answered on Wednesday night.

Turang received a licence in 2010 to build part of a pipeline planned to carry Iranian and Turkmen gas to Europe through Turkey, according to its Web site.

It was granted incentives including tax exemptions on investments of up to 11.5 billion lira (US$5.2 billion) from the government in December last year, according to the Turkish Treasury’s Web site.

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