Turkish Police Rip Down ‘$128 Billion’ Party Banners in Lira Row

Police pulled down opposition party banners alleging misuse of central bank reserves to protect the lira by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s son-in-law as he presided over the economy, deepening a political feud with its origins in Turkey’s monetary policy.

Acting on an order from the prosecutor’s office, posters asking “Where is the $128 billion?” were removed using cranes from the facades of Republican People’s Party offices in Istanbul and elsewhere overnight, local media reports said Wednesday.

The party accuses former Finance and Treasury Minister Berat Albayrak, who resigned from the post in November, of using foreign reserves to prop up the currency as it came under fire amid interest rate cuts. Goldman Sachs estimated the policy cost Turkey more than $100 billion.

Erdogan the same month briefly installed a market-friendly central bank governor who raised borrowing costs until he was removed in March. The president, who unconventionally believes higher interest rates fuel inflation, has repeatedly praised son-in-law Albayrak for his management of the economy and firmly denied any wrongdoing.

“That money is in this nation’s treasury and the central bank,” Erdogan said last month. “There is nothing lost. Thank God, our foreign currency reserves have started to recover.”

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