Partner commits crime, not me: Turkey's former minister

Partner commits crime, not me: Turkey's former minister

Gülistan Alagöz - ISTANBUL
Partner commits crime, not me: Turkeys former minister Former Turkish minister Erdoğan Bayraktar, whose family company earned millions of dollars through a controversial transaction, has defended that the "crime" was committed by the developers that the company was partnered in a real estate project.

Daily Hürriyet revealed on March 6 that the company run by the Bayraktar family gained a net profit of 72.4 million liras only two years after they bought a plot of land in Istanbul. 

The huge profit came after the family company sold the plot to a developer, who benefited from a recent change in the legal status of the plot, including it in the urban transformation zone. It allowed the developers to take advantage of financial incentives provided by the state to encourage people to rebuild their houses on earthquake zones.

In a written statement for Hürriyet on March 6, Bayraktar said that the developers that they partnered with applied for the legal status change, not his family company. 

"After all, including this land plot in the urban transformation zone due to a 'risky building' is against the spirit of the law. It is wrong; it is even a crime, I think," he said, stressing that there was only one, abandoned building in the otherwise empty land.

He added that his family company did not benefit from "any privilege or advantage" because of the change.

İsmail Hakkı Altun, the co-chair of the developer firm Ofton İnşaat, disagreed with Bayraktar in a written statement sent to Hürriyet on March 6. "We exercised our legal right," he said, adding that he could not understand why Bayraktar thought it was a crime.  

Through a law accepted in the parliament in 2012, the Turkish government incentivizes home owners in urban areas at a higher risk of natural disasters, particularly earthquakes, to rebuild their residences.

Bayraktar, who was implicated in the massive corruption investigation in Dec. 2013, was one of the champions of the bill during his tenure at the ministry.