Turkish Prime Minister targeted in second audio tape

ANKARA Thu Feb 27, 2014 3:41am EST

Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan attends a rally to welcome him to Lebanon in al-Kouachra village, northern Lebanon, November 24, 2010. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir/Files

Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan attends a rally to welcome him to Lebanon in al-Kouachra village, northern Lebanon, November 24, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Mohamed Azakir/Files

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ANKARA (Reuters) - A second audio recording, presented as the voice of Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan asking his son not to accept an amount of money on offer in a business deal but to hold out for more, was published on YouTube by an anonymous poster using a pseudonym on Wednesday.

Erdogan said a similar post on the video-sharing site on Monday, allegedly of him telling his son Bilal to dispose of large sums of cash as a graft investigation erupted, was faked by his political enemies.

"Don't take it. Whatever he has promised us, he should bring this. If he is not going to bring that, there is no need," says the voice on the latest recording, presented by a user under the pseudonym Haramzadeler as that of Erdogan.

"The others are bringing. Why can't he bring? What do they think this business is? ... But don't worry they will fall into our lap," the voice says.

Reuters could not verify the authenticity of either recording.

"We are going to check whether the tapes are fake or not and no statement is planned at the moment," a senior government official told Reuters.

The recordings, which appeared within days of the ruling AK Party's official launch of a campaign for local elections at the end of March, are the latest and potentially most damaging allegations in a graft scandal that Erdogan has cast as concocted to unseat him.

The lira weakened to a three-week low of 2.2525 to the dollar overnight from around 2.23 in Wednesday afternoon trade, with fragile sentiment due to the graft row compounded by emerging market worries over escalating tension in Ukraine.

The currency partially recovered to 2.2372 by 0825 GMT.

ELECTION BATTLE

Late on Monday, Erdogan's office released a statement describing the first recordings as "completely untrue and the product of an immoral montage."

Erdogan was scheduled to speak at local election campaign meetings in the western provinces of Burdur and Usak on Thursday afternoon.

No company names are mentioned in Wednesday's audio recording but the voice purportedly of Bilal Erdogan refers to a "Mr. Sitki", saying he could not carry out a transaction.

An accompanying text within the YouTube clip says the reference is to Sitki Ayan, the chairman of Istanbul-based company Turang Transit Tasimacilik. The basis for that conclusion was not clear.

It could not immediately be determined what ties, if any, Turang or its chairman have to the Erdogan family.

Representatives of Turang were not immediately available to comment on Thursday morning.

Turang received a license in 2010 to build part of a pipeline planned to carry Iranian and Turkmen gas to Europe through Turkey, according to its website.

It was granted incentives including tax exemptions on investments of up to 11.5 billion lira ($5.2 billion) from the government in December, according to the Economy Ministry's website.

($1 = 2.2279 Turkish liras)

(Additional reporting by Asli Kandemir and Orhan Coskun; Writing by Nick Tattersall and Daren Butler; Editing by Jon Boyle)

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