Justice will have the last word
Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu revealed documents about off-shore bank transactions by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s close circle in a speech in parliament on Nov. 28.
His claims have a serious impact on the government and himself. If they turn out to be false, Kılıçdaroğlu and his party will lose their reputation, but if the evidence proves a relation to illegal financial transactions, then the government will lose its reputation.
Both options have judicial outcomes. In cases like these, a lawyer cannot call it “fake” without an investigation, nor can they claim it “evidence” beforehand. Politicians can speak as they like but lawyers need valid legal information in order to speak.
At this stage, we have none of these, but we will find out after the judicial investigation. I find it strange that the CHP did not give these documents to the prosecution. Maybe they did this so that parliament would start an investigation, but in any case, the prosecutor’s office needs to make a call and open an investigation.
The government has given two different reactions. Erdoğan’s lawyer said, “The documents are all fake,” while AKP Group Deputy Chairman Bülent Turan said, “The documents are about commercial activities.”
On Nov. 29, Erdoğan said they were all completely legal commercial activities.
The justice system will investigate two issues: Are they fake documents? And if they are not fake, are the commercial transactions legal and in accordance with practices? Both require investigation by very technical and very trustworthy experts.
At this point, lack of confidence in the Turkish justice system comes to mind. However, the trials will be public. If the experts chosen are biased, they will be able to appeal and the file will eventually go to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).
The Zarrab case
Reza Zarrab, an arrested Turkish-Iranian businessman is being tried in the U.S. on charges of violating sanctions on Iran.
Zarrab made an agreement with the prosecution in the U.S. Although he was the focus of crime, he became a “witness” and now the case is called “Hakan Atilla,” who was a deputy general manager of Turkish state lender Halkbank.
Atilla’s lawyers have said “Zarrab is the real criminal” and that “it was Zarrab who sent the bribes in shoeboxes, not Atilla.”
Eventually, every piece of evidence and fake document will be revealed during the public trial. A judicial discussion will take place and it could go up to the High Court.
Legally, the U.S. embargo on Iran is not Turkey’s business. It is not a crime according to Turkish law, as Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım has also said.
But there is another problem:
We do not know exactly what Zarrab and Atilla will state in the trials and what evidence they will show. These could be abstract statements without evidence. In that case, Ankara would be relieved.
But in his testimony yesterday, Zarrab said he bribed Zafer Çağlayan. If the image that Zarrab has set up a web of corruption in Turkey is exposed in a way that will be taken seriously in a legal manner, then Turkey’s reputation and economy will be damaged.
We already hear market experts on television say the developments in the Zarrab case are negatively affecting the foreign exchange market.
As I have always said, Turkey must also be legally strong on this issue.