Erdogan’s Corruption Record during his Term as Mayor of Istanbul

[TurkeyExposed: This information has been provided in its entirety in a comment made by a reader to another post on our blog and I decided to publish it as a separate post because it is too important to leave just as a comment.]

(Mehmet Boluk who published three books and investigated AKP fraud and corruptions was killed in a shady traffic collision in Ukraine on July 12, 2007.)

1- Istanbul 2nd Criminal Court of first instance (neglect of duty) (suspended 4616 times)
2- 4th Criminal court of first Instance. AKA Billboard case accused of 3 separate bid-rigging along with Ali Mufit Gurtuna and 17 other municipal officers. (merged at 4th High Criminal Court)
3- 5th Criminal court of first Instance, misconduct (suspended 4616 times)
4- 6th Criminal court of First Instance, one case (suspended 4616 times)
5- 7th Criminal Court of First Instance, on the forcibly eviction of the President of Darulaceze (Hospice) Foundation by the police, neglect of duty by acting against court’s decision, he was sentenced to prison for 10 months which was converted to a fine (suspended 4616 times)
6- 7th Criminal Court of First Instance, on the bid-rigging for transportation of municipality personnel auction (merged at 4th High Criminal Court)
7- 9th Criminal Court of First Instance, neglect of duty (suspended 4616 times)
8- 13th Criminal Court of First Instance, insulting the judges by commenting on his sentence for reading a poem by saying “this decision is a tragedy, a disgrace for our legal history” (pending in the Assembly) (suspended 4616 times)
9-11th Criminal Court of First Instance, misconduct along with Ali Mufit Gurtuna (4616)
10- 3th Criminal Court of First Instance, on heavy opposition to Cultural and Natural Heritage Protection Law No. 2863 (4616)
11- 4th Criminal Court of First Instance, bid-rigging case together with 58 other municipal officers pending in the assembly
12-Two lawsuits filed separately: one at 10th Criminal Court of First Instance in 2005, the other at 1st Criminal Court of Peace in 2006
13-Eyup Criminal Court, bid-rigging for mosquito abatement in Halic and for Gungoren town hall construction (pending in the assembly)
14-Eyup Criminal Court, bid-rigging for facility constructions, meter reading and advertisements for IGDAS (Istanbul gas distribution corp)
15- Uskudar 2. Criminal Court, Akbil case including 37 defendants (pending in the assembly)
16- Uskudar Civil Court, sentenced to pay 2 billion Turkish Liras for insulting the deceased former Finance Minister Vural Arikan by calling him ‘drunk’
17-A lawsuit for neglect of duty and misconduct issued because of an Italian firm’s complaints along with 11 other defendants.
18-Kartal 2nd Criminal Court of Peace, sentenced to a final 10-month prison on charges of building illegal villa in a forest site (first the sentence converted to a fine then erased from criminal record)

Erdogan and AKP Frauds

1. Billboard Case
Fraud about the auctions for renting billboards located in Istanbul’s main arteries that are favored by major advertising companies.
Biggest tactic of Erdogan in auctions is to give them first to municipal companies (aka BITs), then transferring them to his supporting people or companies. He did the same in Billboard auction. Billboards that are national and international advertising agencies’ most favorite, were first rented to the municipal company KULTUR AS (Culture Inc), then transferred to INTERPAN, a company run by a religious sect named Naqshbandi at a very low annual price as 30 billion TL.
A lawsuit was issued in July 2002 on the grounds of corruption in Billboard auctions at Istanbul Criminal Court. Erdogan, Ali Mufit Gurtuna and 25 other municipal managers (a part of them are now AKP members of the parliament) as defendants on this trial for corruption. The defendants also asked to meet the municipality’s loss of $ 100 million. The course of the case is unknown.

2. Tree Fraud
Fraud about the auctions for purchase and planting of trees in Istanbul.
“Two million trees” campaign was Erdogan’s one of the most ambitious projects. But like in his every project, municipal companies are used and the people of Istanbul are robbed. Tree purchase, planting and maintenance work was first given to the municipal company ISTAC. ISTAC subcontracted it to another municipal company called AGAC AS (TREE INC.) and AGAC AS subtracted it to other politically supporting people and companies.
Trees were imported from Italy at a multiple times higher rate than trees available in Turkey which caused loss of trillions of TL worth in foreign exchange. Thousand of trees were imported knowing that they were not suitable for Istanbul’s climate. And by Erdogan’s order, they were removed at one midnight after all of them died. After the investigations, Erdogan was detected guilty of ‘misusing his authority’, but the case was dismissed after a five-year statute of limitations.

3. Transportation of the Personnel Fraud

Fraud about the auctions for providing transportation for Istanbul municipality and its affiliates’ staff. Providing this service was given to a close friend-owned company named Albayraklar. There have been preposterous fraud incidents in these bids as well. The bids were all framed-up and only couple of companies with close contacts with Erdogan were invited, in some, the only company invited was Albayraklar. These auctions were given to Albayraklar with ridiculously low discounts at a rate of 2-3% and they were included in prosecutors’ indictment and inspectors’ reports among other criminal activities such as fake car licensing.
Despite the fact that Erdogan got away with a lot of these fraud cases because of five-year statute of limitations, he is still in trial for ‘bid-rigging’ about two auctions put out in 1998 at Istanbul 7. Court of First Instance.
Speaking of Albayraklar, here is an article published in Cumhuriyet newspaper, no comments were added, maybe they would help us understand Albayrak-Erdogan relationship better.

Favorite Privatization Company Albayraklar
Albayraklar became famous for the bids they got when Erdogan was Mayor of Istanbul and they become indispensable for privatizations after AKP’s rise to power. 11 people including Albayraklar’s head of Board of the Director, Mustafa Albayrak and his brothers were sentenced for rigging bids put out by Municipality. Albayraklar was banned to enter the auctions for 1 year. However, these sentences were suspended.
Albayrak brothers started the company in 1980 under the leadership of Mustafa Albayrak by running mini-buses and buses in Istanbul. Providing only bus service till 1994, Albayraklar started to prosper after Erdogan became Mayor of Istanbul Metropolitan Area. First auction they got was for transportation of municipality personnel, then they start winning other auctions for garbage disposal, construction and subway projects.
Ministry of Interior appointed Ministry’s Chief of Inspector Board to investigate the allegations of bid-rigging under Clean City Operation. After months of investigations, the investigators reported that they found violations in bids, then the Istanbul State Security Court Prosecutor General’s Office launched an investigation. Istanbul State Security Court ordered Organized and Financial Branch Directorates to make an operation against Albayraklar.
Nearly 100 people, including Chairman of the Board of Albayraklar, Mustafa Albayrak, Erdogan’s advisors and some of the AKP deputies in the Assembly, were detained.
After completing the investigation, Istanbul Public prosecutors sued 70 defendants, among them are Erolcan Ozkan, Rasim Isıkaltın, Hüseyin Yildiz, Mustafa Albayrak, General Director of ISKI (Istanbul Water Company) Veysel Eroglu and Erdogan’s advisor Necmi Kadıoglu. They were sued for charges of “organized criminal activity”, “embezzlement” and “fraud”.
Requesting sentences ranging from 3 to 75 years of heavy imprisonment, the indictment stated that the defendants involved in organized criminal activity to make Erdogan ‘the future Prime Minister’. It is also stated that bids were rigged and agreements were prepared in accordance with the interests of Albayraklar. “A giant organization was created for criminal activity for a political and social cause” was stated as well.
Later, Supreme Court sent the file on Erdogan and Ali Mufit Gurtuna to a local court which make old and new mayors eligible for lawsuit. Then, this case was merged with Albayraklar’s case.
Immediately after sending the file to Istanbul High Criminal Court, the defendants under arrest were released at the first hearing. It was remarkable that defendants detained in absent were released without their testimony taken.
After a while, Erdogan’s party came to power. Immediately after that, the court made the ruling. The court sentenced Mustafa Albayrak, his brothers Kazım and Muzaffer Albayrak, company’s head of procurement department Huseyin Yilmaz, Mehmet Sami Polat, Tamer Öztürk and Osman Temur 2 months 27 days of imprisonment on charges of ‘bid-rigging’ and Council’s Procurement Commission members Basri Saygi, Mustafa Doner, Omer Gaziler and Beytullah Ates were sentenced same amount of imprisonment on charges of ‘neglect of duty’. Then the imprisonment was converted to a fine, then postponed assuming the defendants would not commit any other crime. Gurtuna and other 54 people were acquitted for lack of evidence. Lawsuits opened by State Security Court and then sent to high criminal courts after the new law, are still ongoing. But the trials of Erdogan and Gultuna were resulted with such a speed.
Albayraklar case included 6 parliament members from AKP party, formerly worked at Istanbul Municipality. But after gaining diplomatic immunity, cases of Mustafa Acikalin, Adem Basturk, Idris Naim Sahin, Zulfu Demirbag, Selami Uzun and Mustafa Ilicali are separated. After the elections on November 3rd 2002, Albayraklar became the star as AKP came to power. They began to take bigger bids. They got Eregli Textile, Balikesir SEKA (Turkey Cellulose and Paper factories) and Trabzon port that belong to one of the biggest enterprises, Sumer Holding.
After adding Balikesir SEKA to privatization list, it was sold to Albayraklar for 1.1 million dollar which is almost a price of an apartment building. With this contract, Albayraklar also got the ownership of 4 trillion TL worth of spare parts, 185 lodgings each worth 20 billion average, an energy turbine worth 2.8 trillion and 47 heavy machinery. Factory was built in 1981 and cost 189 million dollars, SEKA inspectors stated the factory worth 51 million dollars.
Albayraklar’s third cheap investment through privatization was the port of Trabzon. 6 companies participated in the auction for operating rights for 30 years. 2 companies were eliminated in the elimination round and the port was opened to the auction with $ 21.3 billion. The operating rights for 30 years was sold to Albayraklar for 22 million 400 thousand dollars. Hope you are paying attention to the difference between billions and millions (one zero at least but an important one). So Albayraklar got the port for 1.1 trillion Turkish Liras, while it is stated that annual profit of the port was 2 trillion 850 billion in 2002. Albayraklar never give the port back despite the court’s decision. Balikesir Branch President of the Cellulose Workers’ Union Ismail Deniz, said that the port should be given back to SEKA according to the law.

4. Garbage Fraud
Fraud about the auctions for collection garbage and taking them to dumpsters. This auction for transporting garbage from transfer areas to dumpsters was also given to Albayraklar via giving it first to a municipal company. Istanbul Municipality bid the job to a municipal company called ISTAC, then Istac bid it to two companies in partner with Albayraklar.
In 1996 garbage transportation bid was given to Sistem Insaat (System Construction Corp.) and Gunaydin Kardesler (Gunaydin Brothers) at a price of 7 trillion Turkish liras. The same job was bidded again when the investigations were going on in 2002. Albayraklar didnt make an offer and Ceynak company got the job at a price of 6.67 trillion TL. Despite the inflation, the job was bid for a much cheaper price even after 6 years.

5. Akbil Fraud
Fraud about the electronic ticketing system implemented to ease transportation in Istanbul. The fraud includes all levels and phases of implementation and application of the system. Turkey had its first experience of cyber-embezzlement during Erdogan’s position at the Municipality. Trillions of liras of the Istanbul people were robbed by changing or deleting digital data. The case is still open, Erdogan is accused as the mastermind of the fraud.

6. IGDAS Fraud
A serious of frauds about Istanbul’s natural gas distribution company IGDAS, from network constructions to meter reading to advertising works auctions. A municipal company IGDAS, which has the monopoly position running all natural gas networks and its distribution in all regions of Istanbul, became the center of biggest fraud activities during Erdogan’s term.
Network construction bids were given to pro-Erdogan companies for very cheap prices. From printing manuals to printing story and painting books, meter reading, purchase of refreshing towels, many bids involved rigging. Propaganda meetings organized by Erdogan were also financed by IGDAS. As a result, people of Istanbul paid over-priced natural gas bills. The case is still open in Eyup Criminal Court.

7- KIPTAS Fraud
Fraud about squandering the funds and the land, which was accumulated by Slum Housing Department to solve the problem of slums in Istanbul and then allocated to a municipal company KIPTAS, by arbitrary applications and bids.
Slum Housing Department was established to solve problem of the slums in Istanbul so they accumulated funds and land for the project. Then, KIPTAS was chosen to manage these lands and funds. KIPTAS gave the lands to their ally companies in bids and let them build and sell. Its revenue was used for lending money to ally municipalities. They bought land in Adapazari and sold some of it to mayors and politicians of FP (Virtue Party). The capital of this company was supposed to belong to the people of Istanbul and resolve the slum problem, but it was spent recklessly. The buildings cheaply constructed as social housings are uninhabitable. But KIPTAS became a built-sell company selling villas for $200-300 dollars.

8-ISKI Fraud
Fraud about ISKI (Istanbul Water and Sewage Company) infrastructure construction, equipment rental, transportation of the personnel and supply of personnel’s clothing bids.
ISKI was used as a means of making people and companies supporting Erdogan rich like many other municipal companies during Erdogan’s term. Only 5 out of 119 bids were announced by newspapers. 114 bids were made in secret by inviting politically supporting companies. The construction companies were not only from Istanbul but from Gaziantep and Kayseri, common feature was they were all supporting Erdogan and they became the winner of bids. The case is still at Istanbul 4th Criminal Court and under investigation by the Chief of Inspection Board at Department of Internal Affairs.

9- Subway Fraud
Fraud about Istanbul Subway’s electro-mechanical system bid. The construction began during Nurettin Sozen’s term (August 1992). While excavation work kept going, Erdogan was elected as the mayor. Sozen completed the bid for subway’s electro-mechanical system but left opening the envelopes to the new mayor. Erdogan opened the envelopes, found the prices very high and re-opened the bid.
Garanti-Koza-Simko-Siemens consortium won the auction, but after 7 months Erdogan canceled it for trivial reasons. The German company reacted to this and bluntly told that Erdogan canceled the auction to give it to one of his supporters. The tender was held for the third time and guess who got the tender? A consortium in partner with Albayraklar.
The case is still open at Istanbul 4th Criminal court. It was detected that Erdogan abused his authority, but he got away with it by ‘Rahsan Amnesty’ which exempted all the cases before April 23, 1999.

10-Equipment-rental Fraud
Fraud about equipment rental by Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality and its affiliate companies. Erdogan launched a new application by leasing passenger vehicles. All measured were taken to assign supporting companies for this project.
For example, the ad for car-rental for Istanbul Municipality was published in Izmir branch of the Official Newspaper, the job was given to the company that belongs to the former Minister Hasan Aksay’s son Mehmet Emin Aksay in Ankara. The municipality is in istanbul, job ad in izmir, the company assigned in Ankara..
Not to mention over-pricing.. For example a brand new Renault Spring car’s selling price is 330 million TL and the municipality paid 312 million TL cash for annual rental!… If they paid 18 million more, the car would be theirs.
Erdogan got away with this case by Rahsan Amnesty as well.

11-Pesticide Fraud
Fraud about purchasing pesticide equipment to prevent mosquitoes and houseflies in Istanbul by the Municipality. A lawsuit was filed for Erdogan and Gurtuna for preparing the auction for a single firm and for a single product at Istanbul Criminal Court.

12- Sludge Dam Fraud
Fraud about transportation of sludge from the Golden Horn to the dam site. During the laying of pipes for improving the region, the bid was given to a company for a price 50 times higher than the price offered by Department of Public Works. Due to the fact that this can not be a minor mistake but involved secret negotiations between the municipality and the contractor company, a lawsuit was filed at Istanbul Criminal Court.

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