Police training school in upmarket Istanbul neighborhood closed, rekindling fraud claims
The abandoned land of the Etiler police school is located in one of Istanbul’s most expensive areas.A police training school in Istanbul’s upmarket neighborhood of Etiler was closed with a Cabinet decision formalized by the Official Gazette on Oct. 9, giving the go-ahead for the construction of a huge residential complex including a hotel and a shopping mall on the same land.
The Cabinet’s decision, adopted amid an extremely charged agenda with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) threat, is likely to rekindle fraud claims regarding construction projects.
According to claims in the aborted Dec. 25, 2013 graft investigation, the school’s parcel was sold to a construction company owned by a businessmen close to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for less than half of its worth without a tender being held, after the land was declared a risk zone.
Istanbul Mayor Kadir Topbaş showed the land’s
deed in Etiler to cameras during a press conference
on Dec. 30. DHA Photo
He also said the $460 million value estimated for the 32,000 square meters of land was determined after an assessment by the state-run housing agency (TOKİ), although reports have claimed that the cost of the property should approach $1 billion, stressing that Etiler is one of Istanbul’s most expensive neighborhoods.
During the press conference, Topbaş had assured that the municipality had not yet decided on the modalities of the tender.
However, less than two months from Topbaş’ press conference, footage showing a group of businessmen examining a vast model of the colossal project named “Bosphorus 360” emerged.
The businessmen in the leaked footage included the Saudi trader Yasin al-Qadi, whose was on the list of suspects that were due to be arrested as part of a second graft probe, according to official prosecution documents obtained by the Turkish media.
But the arrest order was eventually aborted as the investigation was spectacularly made public after its initial prosecutor was removed from the case on Dec. 25. Al-Qadi, described by Erdoğan as a “family friend,” was already a controversial figure, and has been accused of financing terrorism in the past.