Disgraced Turkish former minister returns to AKP

Turkish former minister Zafer Çağlayan, wanted in the United States, has returned to his former Justice and Development Party (AKP), columnist Batuhan Çolak wrote in nationalist Yeniçağ newspaper.

A former economy minister, Çağlayan is best known for having been one of four AKP ministers Turkish prosecutors accused in 2013 of corruption and collusion with Turkish-Iranian gold dealer Reza Zarrab in undermining U.S. sanctions on Iran. Çağlayan stepped down as minister but was afterwards rarely seen in public life.

Some said the large amount of money Turkish police found at Çağlayan’s house had been planted by his domestic enemies, Çolak said, but it was later returned to him with interest by the state after the government quashed the investigation.

A follow-up U.S. investigation opened after Zarrab was arrested in Miami and Çağlayan still faces charges in the United States.

Cağlayan, Zarrab told a court in New York, was given 45-50 million euros, $7 million and 2.5 million lira between March 2012 and March 2013 as part of the deal. Zarrab said there were other bribes paid as well, but he did not have the details at hand.

Çağlayan was selected as an AKP delegate for the southern city of Mersin to the party’s national congress, which is expected to be held in September.