Lawyer denies shoebox money returned to Halkbank’s ex-general manager
Ex-general manager of state-run Halkbank, Süleyman Aslan was released from detention Feb 14. AA photoReports that $4.5 million found in shoeboxes during graft raids conducted Dec. 17, 2013, have been returned to the former general manager of state-run Halkbank after he was released from custody, have been denied by lawyers.
“Reports that the cash was returned [to Süleyman Aslan] do not reflect the reality. It is not possible that it would have happened without my knowledge,” said Aslan’s lawyer, Ersan Şen, in a statement late Feb. 25.
Şen said they made an application requesting the lifting of an asset freeze which was “partially approved two or three times.”
“Only the prosecutor’s office conducting the investigation or the court can give the decision to return the money. And that decision does not mean the conclusion [of the trial]. The decision can also come in the future,” Şen said.
According to an earlier report, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan told ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) lawmakers the sum was money destined for charity and was given back to Aslan by the court.
“The state has not lost a single penny. That amount was charity money,” Erdoğan was quoted as saying by CNNTürk.
Accused of illegal transfers of gold to Iran in exchange for money via Halkbank in partnership with a ring formed by Iranian-born Azeri businessman Reza Zarrab, Aslan was released from detention Feb. 14 with six other suspects. He was replaced while still in custody as head of the bank by Ali Fuat Taşkesenlioğlu.
Zarrab and the sons of the former ministers of the interior and economy still remain under custody, along with two other suspects.