The move coincides with heightened political tensions amid a far-reaching corruption scandal that has led to the detention of prominent businessmen as well as sons of former cabinet ministers close to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Sarıgül will run against İstanbul’s incumbent mayor, Kadir Topbaş of Erdoğan’s center-right Justice and Development Party (AK Party). Polls suggest Topbaş, who has run Turkey’s largest city and business capital for about a decade, will beat Sarıgül, though the race may prove tight.
In his first comment on the seizure, Sarıgül questioned the timing of the move, claiming that the takeover is politically motivated and aims to disrupt his bid for İstanbul mayoral post.
“They will get their answer on March 30, the day of the local elections,” Sarıgül said, insisting that he has no debt to the bank, calling on TMSF officials to hand over the documents showing his debt.