Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) accused the government of seizing dividends in İşbank, one of the country’s largest listed banks, worth 3.7 billion liras ($435 million), Bloomberg reported.
The dividends apply to the CHP’s 28 percent stake in İşbank, bequeathed by Turkey’s founder Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, and to be paid to the Turkish Language Association and the Turkish History Association. The dividends have been shifted to a single account by the Treasury, Bloomberg said, citing Murat Emir, a lawmaker for the party.
“Take your hands off Atatürk’s will,” Emir said. “Those are autonomous institutions.”
The Treasury has not taken the dividends away and is working on a “legal arrangement” on the issue, Culture and Tourism Minister Mehmet Ersoy said on Monday, without providing further details, according to Bloomberg.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has threatened on several occasions to transfer the CHP’s shares in İşbank to the Treasury.
Some analysts and commentators have speculated that the bank’s shares could eventually be transferred to Turkey’s sovereign wealth fund, which Erdoğan chairs, or sold to foreign investors such as regional ally Qatar to raise capital. But the CHP has vowed to apply to the courts should an attempted transfer of the shares from the two institutions occur.