President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has appointed himself chairman of Turkey’s multi-billion-dollar sovereign wealth fund, according to a decision published Wednesday in the Official Gazette.
In an overhaul of the Turkiye Wealth Fund, seven new members were appointed, including Erdogan’s son-in-law, Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak, as the deputy chairman.
The fund was created in the wake of an attempted coup in 2016 to help fund infrastructure projects and shore up markets. It is worth 40 billion dollars, according to state news agency Anadolu.
Last September, Erdogan said the fund had failed to realize a “targeted and desired” outcome. “We have decided that things cannot go on like this. Reorganizing the wealth fund is a must,” he said.
The wealth fund has stakes in top companies, including Turkish Airlines; telecom companies Turk Sat and Turk Telecom; state lenders Ziraat Bank and Halk Bank; the national postal service; the Istanbul stock market; petroleum, mining, railways, ports, tea and sugar conglomerates; and the national lottery.
Erdogan took over as Turkey’s first executive president in July with sweeping new powers, including oversight over economic policy and the ability to appoint the central bank governor.
Investors are closely watching his decisions regarding institutional independence.
Zafer Sonmez, head of the Turkey regional office of the Malaysian sovereign wealth fund Khazanah Nasional, was named as general manager.
With the lofty motto of “for a stronger Turkey,” the fund describes its mission as developing and increasing the value of Turkey’s strategic assets by “transparency-oriented corporate governance.”