Strong opposition caused AKP to drop money laundering article: CHP
ANKARAThe Turkish parliament has approved a law aimed at improving the investment climate in Turkey, while the main opposition chair has said his party forced the government to drop a controversial article which allowed money transfers into the country without questioning their origins. Critics have said the dropped article would pave the way for illicit money from fraud, terrorism and drug smuggling to enter the country.
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government decided to drop the much-debated article from its draft law on improving Turkey’s investment environment and bring it before parliament as a separate draft bill next week.
The decision was a result of a consensus from all three opposition parties, the Republican People’s Party (CHP), the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) – all of which voiced their opposition to the article for potentially attracting illicit money to Turkey.
Speaking to daily Hürriyet, main opposition CHP group deputy spokesperson Özgür Özel said the opposition sought the complete abandonment of bringing overseas assets into Turkey, adding the government had hastily brought about the case before the U.S. trial of Turkish-Iranian businessman Reza Zarrab in September.
Accused of attempting to evade U.S. sanctions on Iran, Zarrab was arrested in Miami in March. However, the businessman is more widely known in Turkey as the prime suspect in a 2013 corruption and bribery scandal involving the AKP government.
“As opposition governments, we tried to prevent all cases of the omnibus bill by submitting motions. As a result, they said they wanted to talk to us,” Özel said, explaining that the AKP had taken their objections into consideration and removed the article.
Government officials, however, did not approve Özel’s account of the process, saying they did not make a promise to amend the bill in line with the opposition’s demands.
“We said we could talk again and make changes if they come up with a reasonable offer,” officials were quoted as saying.
‘Why does Turkey launder money?'
In the meantime, the leader of the CHP said the second article of the law which would have allowed money transfers into Turkey without questioning their origins was removed as a result of strong opposition from the main opposition party.
“Can you imagine this? All the illicit money and money made from drug dealing, fraud and human smuggling would come to Turkey and be laundered here. What would they call you tomorrow? Won’t you be tagged as ‘a country which supports terrorism?’” Kılıçdaroğlu asked.
Terror organizations do not use legitimate financial sources and their main source is illicit money from drugs and human smuggling, the CHP chief said. “You are trying to legislate this and we are resisting you.”
This is not the way to fight against terror, Kılıçdaroğlu also said, adding, “Then they would tell you, ‘If you fight against terror, why do you launder this money?’ What will we say? Nothing. Why will all this money be washed within the system in Turkey?”
“Money isn’t everything,” the CHP chair added, stressing it was important to gain a reputation as a country which abided by international law.