Corruption commission to vote on four ex-ministers

Corruption commission to vote on four ex-ministers

Corruption commission to vote on four ex-ministers

The main opposition CHP deputy Ali Özgündüz (L) puts anti-graft posters AKP deputy Ömer Faruk Öz reacts. DHA Photo

A critical vote will take place today at a parliamentary inquiry commission on whether to send four ministers engulfed in the massive corruption and graft operation that was launched last year on Dec. 17 to the Supreme Council.

The commission consisted of nine lawmakers from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), four lawmakers from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) and one lawmaker from the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), who will vote separately on whether to send former ministers Zafer Çağlayan, Muammer Güler, Egemen Bağış and Erdoğan Bayraktar to the Supreme Council. The voting will be open, which means the votes of each member will be made public. The AKP has a clear majority in the commission.

A separate vote will take place for each of the ministers, should commission members vote in favor of sending the accused ministers to be tried before the Supreme Council, on which charges they should be sent to the Supreme Council for. The commission will later submit a report on its probe into the corruption claims to the General Assembly, where a final vote on whether to send each minister to the Council will take place. To send a former minister to the Council requires at least 276 votes.

The judicial process on the claims has already expired and charges against the ministers have been dropped, with the commission remaining as the sole active process. Last year on Dec. 17, Istanbul prosecutors launched the corruption investigation, which also embroiled a number of prominent officials and Reza Zarrab, a businessman of Iranian origin who allegedly paid bribes to ministers for several years.

All four ministers are accused of bribery in return for using their political influence to Zarrab’s advantage through various ways. Former Economy Minister Çağlayan is accused of using his influence for Zarrab’s gold exports to Iran and blocking legal and administrative probes into a controversial 1.5 tons of gold traded from Ghana to Dubai via Turkey. Güler is accused of using his ministerial powers to provide security for Zarrab, to grant Turkish citizenship to Zarrab’s relatives through illegal ways, to verify whether Zarrab and his men were being probed and attempting to stop the publication of news items against the Iranian businessman. Bağış is accused of mediating in Zarrab’s deal to rent a hotel and using his influence for Zarrab’s relatives to obtain visas from European countries. Bayraktar is accused of issuing construction licenses in violation of master plans.