Former Turkish minister admits writing reference for key graft suspect, but denies bribe
Former Interior Minister Muammer Güler during a Parliament session late November. AA PhotoFormer Interior Minister Muammer Güler has admitted that he gave a reference about Iranian origin businessman Reza Zarrab, the key suspect of the December 2013 corruption probe, but has denied allegations that he accepted bribes from him.
Güler testified on Dec. 3 at a parliamentary commission tasked to probe corruption claims about four former ministers, including Egemen Bağış, Erdoğan Bayraktar and Zafer Çağlayan. The commission is expected to conclude its probe at end of December and then submit its report to Parliament’s General Assembly, which will vote on whether the four deputies should be sent to the Supreme Court.
During the testimony, Commission Chairman Hakkı Köylü and other ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) lawmakers questioned the increase in Güler’s assets, as well as claims that he used his authority as the interior minister to provide security to Zarrab and help his relatives acquire Turkish citizenship. Many of these claims first went public with the release of wiretapped phone conversations between Güler and his son, Barış Güler, after the corruption probe was reported.
In his testimony, Güler partially denied the authenticity of the recordings, but also claimed that some parts of them had fabricated. “These [recordings] are not legal. A minister cannot be wiretapped,” he told the commission.
Admitting that he wrote a reference letter on Zarrab for a bank in China, but denying that he received advantages from their relations, Güler said his son was providing consultancy for Zarrab for a monthly salary of 30,000 Turkish Liras (nearly $15,000 dollars). The former interior minister told the commission that his son, who knows English and Russian, was a “young and successful businessman.”