From shoe boxes to donations for imam schools

From shoe boxes to donations for imam schools

The deputy general manager of Halkbank in charge of international banking, Mehmet Hakan Atilla, has been arrested in New York in relation to Iranian-Turkish businessman Reza Zarrab’s ongoing case in the U.S. The criminal charge is a banking fraud that violated economic sanctions imposed on Iran by the U.S. We do not know for the moment the kind of evidence the prosecutor’s office has for such an arrest. 

When I read this story, I remembered the former general manager of Halkbank, Süleyman Aslan, who was caught with bundles of money in his home. Let me refresh memories for those who do not remember. In a search at Aslan’s home, $2,445,000, 950,000 British pounds and 520,000 Turkish Liras were found in shoe boxes or were stacked in luffas. This money was claimed to be bribe for taking care of Zarrab’s businesses. 

Aslan said the excessive amount of money found in his home were donations to build an İmam Hatip high school in his hometown Osmancık and for the Balkan University. 

Back then, I had asked why a bank’s general manager had stocked donated cash at home and did not feel the need to deposit them in a bank, but did not get an answer. 

The rector of Balkan University, Şinasi Gündüz, said that from 2006 until the date of the house search, all the donations and support for their university was done through legal channels, through banks and that they all underwent legal auditing. 

At the end of the investigation and court case, Aslan was acquitted. The money seized in the search was given back to him with its legal interest rate. 

What happened later? Nobody knows. Was the İmam Hatip school in Osmancık built? Even if collected for charity, shouldn’t there have been a record of this much money? If Aslan sends a copy of any bill, receipt, anything showing that this money was spent for the cause, I will print them on this column. Thus, we would all learn that this money was genuinely collected for charity purposes and stacked in shoe boxes and luffas. 

Not enough to write in constitution 

Justice and Development Party (AKP) posters say, “Power in the nation; control in the parliament.” They want voters to say “Yes” for “a powerful parliament where deputies monitor and investigate the government on behalf of the nation.” 

We learn further through the poster how this would be done; through parliamentary inquiries, general debates, parliamentary investigations and written questions. 

It feels nice to read them, but up until today, the parliament was able to supervise them through these methods too. Additionally, there were motions of censure and oral question methods. 

Did they ever work? No, they did not, because deputies of the ruling party dominated the parliament; these deputies were selected by the party leader, who was also the head of the government to be audited. Since the deputies could not risk ending their political lives by making the party leader angry, the parliament was not able to do its auditing properly. 

Well, how will they be able to do this checking now? 

Maybe we should ask how these supervision methods, which have not worked before, will be functional for a president who will also be the head of a party. 

If the parliament is desired to have a true supervisory power, then why are they insisting on these methods that are known to have failed in the past? 
There is one way to empower the parliament; and that is by empowering the deputies. As long as the fate of the deputies is hanging between the lips of the party leader and as long as their real electorate remains the party leader, they will lack such power. 

The way to this is not through the constitution, but through rewriting the law on political parties and the election law. 

We do not know what AKP’s suggestion is on this matter because they opt for the continuation of the old system. 

The “supervisory power of the parliament” is present in the constitution, not for it to function, but because it sounds nice.