Erdogan Calls for Nationalisation of Turkey’s Isbank

An aide to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called for the nationalisation of Turkey's biggest bank, Isbank in which the main opposition has a 28% stake. The move comes following a lawsuit that Erdogan filed against the opposition CHP for implying that the Turkish president is a dictator. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

ISTANBUL, Jan 20 – An aide to Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has called for the nationalisation of the country’s biggest private bank, Isbank, in which the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) has a 28 percent stake.

The aide, Yigit Bulut, made the comments after lawyers for Erdogan this week filed a lawsuit against CHP leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu for describing the president as a “tin-pot dictator” in a speech.

“I am speaking very clearly, a (political) party cannot have a bank. Necessary legislation should be enacted urgently and this bank should be turned into a state bank,” Bulut said in a TV programme broadcast on state-run TRT Haber late on Tuesday.

“That bank belongs to the state, the people. A party cannot have an organic link to a bank. After that speech, after those insults to the president, state, people and religious community, that bank should urgently be returned to the people,” he said.

Kilicdaroglu described Erdogan as a dictator over the president’s intolerance of a petition signed by academics criticising military action against Kurdish militants in the southeast and urging an end to curfews in the region.

Isbank shares were down 2.65 percent at 4.41 lira by 1150 GMT, underperforming the main Istanbul share index which was down 1.2 percent.

Last May the authorities took over Bank Asya, set up by followers of U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gulen, an ally-turned-foe of Erdogan.

The CHP inherited a 28.09 percent stake in Isbank from the founder of the Turkish Republic, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, whose will stipulates that dividends go to the Turkish Language Association and Turkish History Association.

A foundation constituted by the bank’s employees holds a 40.15 percent stake in the bank, and the remaining 31.76 percent is listed on the Istanbul stock exchange.

Last February, a Twitter whistleblower who tweets under the pseudonym Fuat Avni said Erdogan had ordered Turkey’s banking watchdog to take over Isbank. The bank dismissed those reports.

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