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Funds probe disclosed within Turkish German association

Berlin prosecutors say the former co-chairman of the Turkish communities' association in Germany has initiated charges against himself. Kenan Kolat is alleged to have used the group's account for private purposes.

The Berlin prosecutor's office confirmed on Wednesday that Kolat had initiated his own indictment for alleged breach of trust in relation to the group's bank account.

When the association chose its new board last May, Kolat (pictured above) declined to seek re-election citing health reasons.

He had served as co-chairman for nine years and was a key figure who challenged racism and expressed regret in 2012 when Germany's then-president, Christian Wulff, resigned.

The association - known in German as the TGD - represents Turkish communities across Germany's 16 regional states. The TGD's secretariat in Berlin focuses on political lobbying to foster integration of migrants and especially youth through training.

The TGD has also spoken out about

neo-Nazi murder series directed mostly at migrant Turks.

Germany has 8.2 million resident foreigners of which some 3 million are of Turkish origin. Some have German nationality. Half remain Turkish nationals.

Report from Deutschlandfunk

Kolat's alleged misuse of the TGD became public on Wednesday in a report broadcast by Germany's Deutschlandfunk radio (DLF).

The Cologne-based radio station said Kolat had withdrawn cash from the TGD account between March 2012 and September 2013.

He paid back the sums of between 200 ($215)and 1,000 Euros, sometimes within days, sometimes up to eight months later, DLF said, adding that it had received documentary evidence.

Berlin branch dissuaded Kolat

The TGD's former treasurer, Hilmi Kaya Turan told DLF that Kolat had wanted to seek re-election as federal chairman last May, but his own regional branch in Berlin did not allow him to do so.

"There was an agreement with him that he would not again seek candidacy because of his lapses," Turan said, adding that Kolat was, however, allowed to complete his term in dignified way.

No 'punishable crime'

TGD successor chairman Gökay Sofuoglu said Kolat continued to be employed afterwards on a freelance project basis "because in our opinion no punishable crime had been committed that would incriminate Kenan Kolat."#

"And for us there was no problem that he worked within the TGD but no longer specifically in a leadership position," Sofuoglu said.

The association's auditors had last year even recommended approval of the TGD's accounts and thereby "also cleared chairman Kolat," Sofuoglu added.

In a written statement, Kolat's lawyer said the former co-chairman had communicated the factual situation in February to Berlin prosecutors to protect the association from possible damage and to enable an independent probe.

ipj/kms (AFP, DLF)

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