Graft suspect resigns from state-run Ziraat Bank around one month after appointment
DHA PhotoThe former general manager of Halkbank, who is also a key suspect in the Dec. 17 graft scandal, has resigned from his post as a board member of state-run Ziraat Bank, around one month after his controversial appointment.
Süleyman Aslan’s resignation was announced in a written statement released by Ziraat Bank on May 9.
Aslan, who was elected as member of the Board of Directors of Ziraat Bank at a general assembly meeting on March 31, resigned from the post as of April 30, the statement said briefly, without elaborating.
However, the announcement did quote Aslan as expressing his “honor” to have been assigned as member of the Board of Directors, also voicing “gratitude to the will that assigned him” and interpreting the assignment as a signal of this will’s “confidence in him.”
Along with the sons of three Cabinet ministers and scores of others in three overlapping probes into corruption in government tenders, money laundering and gold smuggling, Aslan was detained on Dec. 17, 2013, the day when the investigation went public with raids on the homes of several suspects.
He has since become a notorious figure among some, particularly after $4.5 million was found in shoeboxes at his home during the Dec. 17 raids.
Aslan denied any wrongdoing and Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan defended him by saying that all of the cash was being kept as “charity money.”
Despite being replaced as head of Halkbank while still in custody, Aslan was controversially reappointed to its board after his release on Feb. 14, where he remained until March 31.
His appointment as head of Ziraat Bank drew reactions from many as he still faces accusations of illegal gold transfers to Iran in exchange for money via Halkbank, in partnership with a ring formed by Iranian-born Azeri businessman Reza Zarrab.
At the time, Ziraat Bank CEO Hüseyin Aydın defended the appointment, suggesting that the decision to appoint Aslan to another state-run lender was taken by shareholders.
“Board members are set by the shareholders in every bank. The board members were decided by the shareholders in our bank as well,” Aydın said.
According to rumors, Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan, a former economy minister, opposed Aslan’s appointment to Ziraat Bank, arguing that it would cause “misperceptions.”
The government refused all allegations regarding the Dec. 17 graft probe, claiming that the whole investigation was a probe orchestrated by the movement of U.S.-based Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen.