Davutoğlu calls on Erdoğan to declare assets amid private university row
(Releads with changes to paragraphs 1-4)
Former Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu on Saturday called on Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to declare his assets amid an escalating row over a Davutoğlu-linked private university, whose assets have been frozen by a court.
Davutoğlu blasted Erdoğan for accusing him of committing fraud against Turkey's state-owned Halkbank in a bid to save İstanbul Şehir University from a financial crisis and called for all of Turkey's living presidents and prime ministers, including Erdoğan and his family members, to declare their assets.
"I myself will not abstain for one second from answering to Turkish Parliament, which I am no longer a member of,'' T24 news site quoted Davutoğlu as saying.
Erdoğan on Saturday accused former ally Davutoğlu, who is about to establish a breakaway party, of fraudulent acts regarding the land allocated to Istanbul Şehir University. The Turkish president said he allocated the land to be used for the university’s campus during his term as prime minister, but Davutoğlu changed the allocation to a permanent transfer of ownership when he took office.
“As [Davutoğlu] made this transfer of ownership, he had (former Deputy Prime Ministers) Ali Babacan, Mehmet Şimşek and (former Transportation Minister) Feridun Bilgin with him,” the president said.
Turkey’s second-largest state-owned bank Halkbank recently took to court Şehir University, which has Ahmet Davutoğlu among its founders, citing its inability to pay back loans. All assets of the university have been frozen.
An administrative court in March issued a stay of execution on one of the seven lots the university had presented as security.
“They are trying to defraud Halkbank,” Erdoğan said. “Their debts are at 417 million liras ($72 million) right now.”
Erdoğan also said former President Abdullah Gül, who Ali Babacan said would act as an advisor to Babacan’s breakaway party from Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), told him of his wish for the issue to be resolved.
“I told (Gül) that we know how the banks were bankrupted in the past,” the president said.