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2013 corruption scandal in Turkey


2013 corruption scandal in Turkey

The 2013 corruption scandal in Turkey refers to a criminal investigation that involves several key people in the Turkish government. Most people involved being members of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). Erdoğan was out on a foreign tour of Pakistan when the scandal broke, which analysts believe changed the response of the AK Party or influenced those with the tapes to leak them at a time when Erdoğan was touring a key ally (Pakistan) abroad.[1]


  • Police investigation and allegations 1
    • Second wave 1.1
  • Government reaction 2
    • Cabinet reshuffle 2.1
  • Other controversies 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5

Police investigation and allegations

On 17 December 2013, the Financial Crimes and Battle Against Criminal Incomes department of the Istanbul Security Directory detained 47 people, including officials from TOKİ (Housing Development Administration of Turkey), the Ministry of Environment and Urban Planning, and the District Municipality of Fatih.[2] Barış Güler, Kaan Çağlayan and Oğuz Bayraktar, who are sons of the Turkish ministers, Muammer Güler (Minister of the Interior), Zafer Çağlayan (Minister of Economy), and Erdoğan Bayraktar (Minister of Environment and Urban Planning) were implicated, as well as Mustafa Demir, the mayor of the district municipality of Fatih; the real estate businessman Ali Ağaoğlu; Süleyman Aslan, the general manager of Halkbank and the Iranian businessman Reza Zarrab.[3]

Moreover, Egemen Bağış, the Minister of European Union Affairs, is cited in newspaper articles as a potential suspect of bribery related to Reza Zarrab who has business affiliations with Babak Zanjani.[4][5][6]

The police confiscated some $17.5 million as money used in bribery during the investigation; $4.5 million was found at Süleyman Aslan's residence and $750,000 at Barış Güler's.[7] Prosecutors accuse 14 people including Barış Güler, Kaan Çağlayan, Süleyman Aslan and Reza Zarrab of bribery, corruption, fraud, money laundering and smuggling gold. On 21 December, the court ordered the arrest of these 14 people.[8]

In total, 91 people were detained in the investigation; 26 of them were arrested by the court.[9]

Second wave

Several newspapers reported that a new investigation was expected on 26 December, possibly involving Prime Minister Erdoğan's sons, Necmettin Bilal Erdoğan and Burak,[10] as well as certain Al-Qaeda affiliates from Saudi Arabia such as Sheikh Yaseen Al Qadi and Osama Khoutub.[11] The police officers in Istanbul Security Directorate, newly appointed by the government just a few days previously, refused to carry out their orders, and the Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions did not approve this new operation. The man behind this second investigation, Prosecutor Muammer Akkaş, was dismissed on the same day.[12] Akkaş said he was prevented from performing his duty.[13]

A second wave of arrests was planned, and a list was leaked to the press.[14]

At midnight on 7 January, a government decree was published removing 350 police officers from their positions, including the chiefs of the units dealing with financial crimes, smuggling and organised crime.[15] Islamic community leader Fethullah Gülen described the decree as a purge of civil servants, while Prime Minister Erdoğan described the corruption investigation as a "judicial coup" by those jealous of his success, namely the former's secretive Gülen movement, backed by foreigners.[16]

Government reaction

Since the beginning of the investigation, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government has started a purge in the police force; sacking dozens of police chiefs, most notably Hüseyin Çapkın, the Chief of Police in Istanbul.[17] The Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Justice also changed their regulations, forcing security forces to inform their seniors of their actions at all times.[18] This received criticism from the Union of Turkish Bar Associations, who are taking the case to the Turkish Council of State.[19] The Turkish Council of State overturned the change of these regulations on 27 December, much to the disappointment of Prime Minister Erdoğan.[20]

Various opposition sources accused the government of trying to influence the judiciary system and covering up the corruption. Among them was the Nationalist Movement Party MP Oktay Vural.[21]

In late December, Hurriyet and Yeni Safak papers published comments by Erdogan stating he believes he is the ultimate target of a corruption and bribery probe of his allies. The Turkish prime minister told journalists that anyone attempting to enmesh him in the scandal would be "left empty handed." Erdogan reshuffled his Cabinet on 25 Dec, replacing 10 ministers hours after three ministers, whose sons were detained in relation to the probe, resigned.[22]

According to Hüseyin Çelik, who is serving as government spokesman, the four ministers who are involved in the investigation offered their resignation to the Prime Minister Erdoğan on 22 December.[23]

Erdoğan blamed the investigation on an international conspiracy and vowed revenge on the Islamic community of the preacher Fethullah Gülen.[24] There had been an antagonism between Erdoğan and Gülen for some time: Hakan Şükür, who is often regarded as a disciple of Gülen, had resigned his post in Justice and Development Party on 16 December.[25] Erdoğan also threatened Francis Ricciardone, the U.S. ambassador to Turkey, with expulsion.[26]

Erdoğan left the country for an official visit to Pakistan on 23 December while the scandal was dominating the headlines.[1]

Muhammed Mısır, a bureaucrat in the Ministry of Health, resigned after bribery allegations on 24 December.[27]

Muammer Güler (Minister of the Interior) and Zafer Çağlayan (Minister of Economy), both of whose sons were arrested in the corruption operation, resigned together on the morning of 25 December.[28] That same afternoon, Erdoğan Bayraktar (Minister of Environment and Urban Planning) resigned both as minister and as a member of parliament. Bayraktar said that he did not take kindly to having been forced into resignation, and that Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan should resign as well, claiming that he had done everything with the Prime Minister's approval.[29][30]

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See also

Babak Zanjani, an alleged partner and accomplice of Reza Zarrab, was arrested in Iran on 30 December.[42]

On 24 December, Abdi Altınok, an Assistant Chief of Police in the Isparta Province Security Directory, committed suicide.[41]

On 23 December 35-year-old Hakan Yüksekdağ, a police commissioner in the Smuggling and Battle Against Organized Crimes Department of the Ankara Province Security Directory, was found dead in his car. His relatives dispute the official claim that Yüksekdağ committed suicide.[40]

On 24 December, another video began to circulate that shows Ali Erdoğan, nephew and bodyguard of Prime Minister Erdoğan, instructing a police commissioner to abuse the detainees who had protested his uncle and hurling insults at him when he refuses.[39]

Other controversies

In a speech to the press on the evening of 25 December, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced the reshuffle of 10 members of his cabinet[22] in light of the scandal, saying that the reshuffle was to replace the three ministers who had resigned earlier in the day and others who were planning mayoral runs in the local elections in March 2014. This included the removal of Minister for European Union and Chief Negotiator Egemen Bağış, another figure in the scandal, from office.[36][37] The changes to the cabinet are:[38]

Cabinet reshuffle

On 31 December, Burdur Deputy Hasan Hami Yıldırım also announced his resignation from the AKP, reducing the number of AKP parliamentarians to 320.

Erdal Kalkan, a member of parliament in the constituency of Izmir from the ruling AKP, resigned from his party on 26 December because of the ongoing scandal.[33] Haluk Özdalga, Member of Parliament in the constituency of Ankara, resigned from AKP for the same reason.[34] Ertuğrul Günay, another MP in the constituency of Izmir and former Minister of Culture, was the third one to resign from AKP.[35] These three ex-members of AKP were each separately had been on investigation by AKP's internal discipline committee with the accusation of opposing AKP's own regulations. They all resigned before the committee reached a verdict.

450 policemen in the Financial Crimes department were forbidden to enter the Istanbul Security Department HQ.[32]


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