Istanbul mayor rejects fraud claims on two municipality tenders
Istanbul Mayor Kadir Topbaş shows the deed of a parcel of land in Etiler, which was claimed to be involved in a fraudulent transaction, during a press statement in Istanbul, Dec. 30. DHA photoIstanbul Mayor Kadir Topbaş has rejected claims of fraud involving two separate tenders from the metropolitan municipality.
The claims were attributed to the investigation files of a second corruption case, which was controversially made public last week after its head judge declared in a written statement that he had been removed from the case amid “pressure.”
“We don’t engage in steps alone. We don’t know how those unfounded claims were procured from the [investigation] files. We work without wasting one cent,” Mayor Kadir Topbaş said in a press statement Dec. 30.
Reports said investigators were examining Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality for selling a parcel of land owned by a police school in the city’s upmarket Etiler neighborhood to a construction company for less than half its worth without organizing any tender. The other claim was related to the tender for a new metro line on Istanbul’s European side.
Regarding the land, Topbaş said it became the property of the municipality via a protocol with the Interior Ministry, adding that the $460 million value was determined after an assessment by the state-run housing agency (TOKİ). Reports said the cost of the land, located in one of Istanbul’s most prized neighborhoods, would approach $1 billion.
Topbaş also said the municipality had not yet decided on the modalities of the tender, showing the parcel’s deed to cameras to prove that it had not been sold.
He also said claims about the Mecidiyeköy-Mahmutbey metro line aimed to obstruct the municipality in its transportation works.
“Are obstacles being erected to prevent us from building the metro network so that we don’t reach our goal of 400 km by 2019?” he asked.
Topbaş also rejected Republican People’s Party (CHP) head Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu’s suggestions that the municipality was bankrupt.
“We don’t have any domestic debts. We have long-term foreign debt related with the metro projects. We are at around 40 percent of our credit limit. Istanbul is not ruined; quite the contrary, it is a municipality that makes investments,” he said.
The second graft probe, which targets prominent businessman according to arrest orders obtained by daily Hürriyet, was reportedly aborted after the removal of its head judge, Muammer Akkaş. The probe was said to be larger than the current graft scandal, although Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan accused Akkaş of going after the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).