$1.8 billion transfer from Turkey’s Unemployment Fund to state banks

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A photo shows the logo of the Turkish Halkbank on December 2, 2017 in Istanbul. A Turkish-Iranian gold trader testifying at trial in New York on November 30 implicated Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a multi-billion-dollar gold-for-oil scheme allegedly designed to subvert US sanctions on Iran. The case has angered Erdogan. His government has called the trial a "plot" and he has demanded the release of Zarrab and defendant, Mehmet Hakan Atilla, the deputy chief executive of Turkish lender Halkbank. / AFP PHOTO / OZAN KOSE

Presidential spokesperson İbrahim Kalın on Wednesday confirmed that TL 11 billion (approximately $1.8 billion) was transferred from the Unemployment Fund to three state-run banks, Sputnik Turkish service reported.

The confirmation came after economy columnist Uğur Gürses discovered that Halkbank, Vakıfbank and Eximbank had received that amount of money from unknown sources. Gürses then examined the Unemployment Fund’s records and reported that the money might have come from there.

“Public funds can be used in various places within state institutions,” Kalın said.

“It has been happening for a long time. There is no risk or danger here. On the contrary it is a step to use public funds more effectively.”

The Unemployment Fund is valued at TL 124.3 billion ($20 billion) according to data revealed in August.

Meanwhile, Deputy Treasury and Finance Minister Bülent Aksu was asked in parliament about the transfer of funds, and he said neither he nor the ministry had any knowledge of it.

“In the end, though, these institutions are free to exchange assets,” Aksu said.

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