Dec 12 2017

Erdoğan “number one” suspect in Turkish graft case - policeman

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was the number-one suspect in a 2013 Turkish corruption investigation, the police officer who led the enquiry told a New York court on Monday, Courthouse News said.

Hüseyin Korkmaz was testifying in the case of Mehmet Hakan Atilla, an executive at Turkish state-owned Halkbank, who is on trial accused of undermining U.S. sanctions on Iran.

“I took initiative in order to preserve the evidence,” Korkmaz was quoted by the New York Times as saying as he described how he had given copies of the dossiers from the Turkish police investigation to U.S. law enforcement agencies.

The sons of three Turkish ministers were among 89 people detained in Korkmaz’s Dec. 17, 2013 investigation, which was quickly quashed by the Turkish government and led to his temporary jailing. Erdoğan was prime minister at the time.

Korkmaz told the court how he and his young family had escaped from Turkey once he was freed, using fake passports and hiding in three different countries.

He was convinced the evidence had to be saved because authorities had an incentive to destroy it, he said.

“Both the prosecutor and I believed that the evidence would never be brought up in court,” the New York Times quoted him as saying.

Korkmaz told the court that there were three separate groups connected to Iranian-Turkish gold dealer Reza Zarrab that were involved in the sanctions-busting.

One was run by Halkbank CEO Süleyman Aslan and then-Economy Minister Zafer Çağlayan, a second was run by then-Interior Minister Muammer Güler, and the third was run by Zarrab's former partner in gold dealing, Taha Ahmet Alacacı.

Korkmaz was asked to identify a photograph he had provided of a large amount of cash at Aslan's home.

“It is stacks of 100-dollar bank notes, also stacks of euro bank notes at 500 euros each, also stacks of 100 Turkish Lira bank notes,” Korkmaz explained, according to the Courthouse News.