Turkey's Court of Accounts on Tuesday denied main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) Istanbul mayoral candidate Ekrem Imamoğlu's claims that its report includes assessments about Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality (IBB) providing funds to non-governmental organizations.
During Sunday's live debate against People's Alliance candidate Justice and Development Party's (AK Party) Binali Yıldırım, Imamoğlu claimed that 308 million Turkish liras ($52 million) worth of municipality assets were transferred to foundations and NGOs close to the government in a year, citing the top audit court's 2017 report on the IBB. The Nation Alliance mayoral hopeful claimed that the report found total irregularities reaching TL 753 million over the course of five years in the public transport authority Istanbul Electric Tram and Tunnel Company (IETT), Istanbul's water authority ISKI and the metropolitan municipality.
Yıldırım said that the report only cites an irregular transaction of TL 108,000 and Imamoğlu's claims and implications were based on lies. Answering a question by the debate moderator Ismail Küçükkaya whether the court itself denied these allegations, Yıldırım said both the court and the IBB rejected the accusations but could not be heard by the public. He noted that the municipalities could not transfer funds to foundations, and the foundations that the IBB is currently cooperating with are using the land and buildings allocated by the municipality for student dormitories, education facilities and social responsibility projects. Imamoğlu responded that the IBB itself can carry out such work.
The Court of Accounts said that Imamoğlu argued that the public incurred losses, citing its reports, although the claim was not based on reality, and an evaluation on public loss cannot be made from its reports.
"In the audit report of the 2017 accounts and transactions of the IBB, the ISKI and the IETT, it is clearly stated that a positive view was given within the frame of detections and suggestions, and on several findings regarding accounting and recording system and relevant suggestions," the statement said, adding that none of the transactions were irregular or incurred public losses as claimed by Imamoğlu during the debate or over his Twitter account.
If irregularities or public losses were detected during an inspection of a public institution, they are subjected to trial by the court by preparing a separate report, it added.
"Although this is a known fact, giving statements in a way that creates a perception that public losses had incurred by blending technical concepts such as revenues, expenses, proceeds, profits and dividends and their relevant sums and making some imaginary calculations is an outcome of an intentional and not well-intentioned approach," it said.
The statement said that the findings in the report are aimed to guide and improve the municipality just like the case in other public authorities.
The court also listed 11 findings that were cited by Imamoğlu and said that its findings were either corrected by the IBB in the next fiscal year or pending.