Graft probe evidence is handwritten note signed by Reza Zarrab

Graft probe evidence is handwritten note signed by Reza Zarrab

Bülent Sarıoğlu ANKARA
Graft probe evidence is handwritten note signed by Reza Zarrab

Controversial businessman Reza Zarrab, who was at the center of the quashed corruption probe that had shaken Turkish politics.

A handwritten note signed by Iranian businessmen Reza Zarrab, in which he states that he has received the money for the luxury watch he bought for former Economy Minister Zafer Çağlayan, has been revealed as the evidence that cleared Çağlayan of wrongdoing in the eyes of a parliamentary corruption panel.

“I have received 240,000 euros for the price of the watch from M. Zafer Çağlayan,” says the paper, signed by Zarrab with handwriting and dated Oct. 30, 2013. The paper is apparently taken from a hotel, as it has the hotel’s signature on it.

HDN Çağlayan, who was among the suspects in Turkey’s quashed corruption probe last December, accused of receiving a customized watch worth 700,000 liras as a bribe from the Iranian businessman Zarrab, has said he asked Zarrab to buy it for him but actually paid for it himself, during his December 2014 testimony to the parliamentary graft commission formed to investigate corruption allegations.

Some panel members from the ruling party, who voted against the trial on graft charges of the four former cabinet members, including Çağlayan, said they had seen evidence proving the innocence of the former ministers.

Giving his testimony at the commission, Çağlayan said he did not have time to purchase the watch abroad, so asked Azeri-Iranian businessman Reza Zarrab to do so and repaid the full value of the watch in person.

Çağlayan had claimed during a special parliamentary session on corruption accusations in May 2014 that he had paid the entire sum himself and the guarantee certificate was in his name, even though the bill was not. However, the watch company, Patek Phillipe, said its guarantee certificates did not bear the name of any particular individual.

Çağlayan paid a customs fine for the much-debated luxury watch of 250,000 liras in late November, due to actions contrary to customs legislation.