Red Crescent received 51 million liras in conditional donations 2015-2019

The Turkish Red Crescent received nearly 51 million liras between 2015 and 2019 in conditional donations that allowed donors to bypass income tax payments, Turkish news site Diken reported.

More than 30 million liras of the donations went toward building student dormitories, while 7.9 million liras went to bursaries and 7.1 million liras went toward constructing schools, Diken said.

The sum of 51 million liras amounted to more than $8.5 million on Dec. 31, 2019, but the lira’s value had more than halved since Dec. 31, 2015, when the same sum would have amounted to $17.3 million.

The issue of conditional donations has hit the headlines after it was revealed that the Red Crescent had received an $8-million donation from Başkentgaz, an energy company that supplies Turkey’s capital.

Donations to the Red Crescent are 100-percent tax deductible, while donations to other charities receive a tax rebate of just 5 percent. Başkentgaz’s donation was made on the condition that more than $7.9 million of it would be passed on to Türken, a foundation with close ties to the Turkish government, to be used to build a student dormitory in Manhattan, New York.

Opposition politicians from Turkey accused Başkentgaz of using the Red Crescent in a complex web of tax evasion, while some have said the transfer of large sums to government-linked foundations amounted to corruption.

“If Başkentgaz paid the money directly to (Türken’s parent foundation) Ensar, it would come from its own coffers, but by paying it through the Red Crescent, it is essentially coming out of the money it should be paying to the inland revenue,” Sözcü columnist Deniz Zeyrek said.

Thus, he said, “the money donated to build a luxury building in New York is not coming from Türken or Ensar, nor from Başkentgaz, but from the state”.