Arrest of business giants and minister sons shocked Turkey

Istanbul and Ankara police staged morning raids December 17 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.

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.

Yesterday'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.

Adapted from