Erdoğan dismissed criticisms on Wednesday, saying that it is normal that he told previous Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin to closely monitor a court case about Turkish media mogul Aydın Doğan.
Erdoğan is heard telling the former justice minister to closely monitor the court case to make sure that Doğan, whom tax authorities fined $600 million in a separate case in 2009, does not get off scot-free.
After a lower court ruled in Doğan’s favor in a trial over alleged irregularities in capital markets law, Ergin tells Erdoğan not to worry because the case would go for a final decision to the Assembly of Criminal Chambers of the Supreme Court of Appeals.
Erdoğan said on Wednesday that the Capital Markets Board (SPK), which regulates markets, sectors and companies to ensure fair competition between firms, provided him with “very dangerous information” on Doğan. “Parallel structures, dirty relations,” Erdoğan said to justify his actions. “It required me to tell [Ergin] to closely follow the case,” Erdoğan noted, adding that he wants this for his “country and nation.”
Doğan, whom the prime minister has criticized on a number of occasions in past years, owns a number of mainstream TV channels and newspapers that are critical of the government.
The prime minister also confirmed the authenticity of another voice recording released on Tuesday that revealed that Erdoğan instructed businessman Metin Kalkavan to engineer the reopening of the public bid on the national warship project (MİLGEM).
In the phone conversation from April 2013, Erdoğan asks Kalkavan, the owner of a maritime company, to claim that the necessary conditions for competition had not been met in the initial bidding for MİLGEM. Although Kalkavan tells Erdoğan that his company failed to make an official application for the bid, Erdoğan insists that Kalkavan submit a petition to the Prime Ministry’s Coordination Center (BİMER) and Prime Ministry Monitoring Council (BTK).
The MİLGEM contract, which was awarded to Koç Holding subsidiary RMK Marine for $2.5 billion in January of 2013, was cancelled by the Defense Industry Implementation Committee (SSİK) in September, 2013. At a meeting chaired by Erdoğan and attended by Chief of General Staff Gen. Necdet Özel and Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz, a report prepared by the BTK on the MİLGEM contract, stating that it was not in the public interest, was approved by the SSİK.
In another phone call claimed to date from Sept. 27, 2013, Erdoğan allegedly talks to Kalkavan again, instructing him to offer a competitive price in the new bid for MİLGEM.
Erdoğan justified his phone conversation with Kalkavan, saying that a businessman who was sidelined during the tender appealed to him.
The voice recording, however, clearly shows that Erdoğan instructs Kalkavan to re-apply for the bid.