Opposition questions Albayrak’s continued role in Turkey’s sovereign wealth fund

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) has sought to clarify the continued role of former Finance Minister Berat Albayrak’s in the country’s sovereign wealth fund following his resignation from the government, Gazette Duvar reported on Thursday.

Albayrak unexpectedly stepped down as finance minister under a cloud of mystery on Sunday, citing health problems. Albayrak has yet to make any further public statements, and the sudden departure of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s son-in-law, once tipped as a future successor, has left significant questions unanswered.

In a series of parliamentary questions, CHP deputy Ahmet Vehbi Bakırlıoğ raised the role of Albayrak in other state institutions, most notably Turkey’s sovereign wealth fund, Duvar said.

The Turkey Wealth Fund (TVF) was founded in 2016, at a time when Erdoğan was seeking to bolster his control after a coup attempt, taking a share in several of the country’s most significant companies, and recently gained overall control of Turkcell, Turkey’s largest mobile internet provider.

The fund has faced repeated accusations of political interference for the leading role held by Erdoğan and other members of his government. Earlier this year, TVF chief executive Zafer Sonmez told the Financial Times that he was in “daily contact” with then Finance Minister Albayrak, who remains listed as the fund’s deputy chairman despite his resignation.  

Bakırlıoğ blamed the poor performance on the fund’s management, including Albayrak, noting the rapid rise in the debt held by the TVF to 284.2 billion Turkish liras last year from 194.6 billion liras in 2018, Duvar said.

The deputy asked Vice President Fuat Oktay whether Albayrak continued to hold a position at the TVF following his resignation and what compensation he would be due if he were to step own or be dismissed.