Istanbul and Ankara police staged morning raids today as part of a probe into tender fraud and bribery operation allegations, detaining at least 37 people.
The sons of three Cabinet members, Interior Minister Muammer Guler, Economy Minister Zafer Caglayan and Environment and Urbanization Minister Erdogan Bayraktar, are among the detained. Barish Guler, Salih Kaan Caglayan and Abdullah Oguz Bayraktar were detained on accusations of bribery, the report said.
Other detainees include Turkish construction tycoon Ali Agaoglu, Halkbank General Manager Suleyman Aslan, Azerbaijani businessman Reza Zarrab, Fatih Mayor Mustafa Demir and civil servants from the Environment Ministry and the Economy Ministry, according to Hürriyet.
The police and the prosecutor’s office have yet to make an official statement about the raids.
Speaking to reporters, Istanbul Governor Huseyin Avni Mutlu avoided giving any details about the operations. “It is not proper to make statements at the moment when the legal process is ongoing,” he said.
Environment Ministry General Manager Mehmet Ali Kahraman, Advisor to the Environment Minister Sadik Soylu, and Caglayan’s executive assistants, Mustafa Behchet Kaynar and Onur Kaya, are among the detained.
Meanwhile, Minister Guler has canceled his program today, which was scheduled to take place in the Bulgarian capital Sofia. He was set to attend a signature ceremony for the establishment of a border gate and common customs gate between Turkey, Greece and Bulgaria.
Minister Ça?layan also canceled his program today following the operation. He was scheduled to attend a ceremony at 9:45 a.m. in the building of the Economy Ministry, where the Gölba?? Education and Social Facility was set to have been transferred to the Family and Social Policies Ministry.
The operations were launched in response to allegations of rigging state tenders and bribery, Anadolu Agency reported. Hürriyet reported that the operations were the result of one year of surveillance.
The suspects are accused of accepting and facilitating bribes for some projects and getting construction permits for protected areas in exchange for money, the daily said.
Today’s simultaneous operations are part of three separate investigations, Dogan News Agency reported.
The investigations’ prosecutors are familiar names to the Turkish public. The operations are being headed by Istanbul deputy public prosecutor Zekeriya Oz, who is known for his work on the alleged deep-state Ergenekon coup plot case, and prosecutor Celal Kara. Kara was also a prosecutor in cases including the military espionage trial./HurriyetDailynews/