Interior Ministry under Soylu covers up corruption cases against AKP-era Istanbul Municipality: Report

A report on the 36 corruption cases opened by the current Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality against the previous AKP-era mayorship has revealed that Turkey's Interior Ministry in 2020 covered up five of the cases after taking over the investigations from then new CHP administration. 

Duvar English

The Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality’s (IBB) Investigation Board has revealed that the Interior Ministry under Süleyman Soylu covered up five of the 36 corruption cases against the former Istanbul Municipality run by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

The Ministry in December 2020 took over the cases from the İBB's internal investigation organ controlled by the then new mayorship under main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), according to reporting by Arı from the daily BirGün. 

The total 36 investigations involve a total public loss of 30 billion Turkish Lira ($1.5 billion).

The report found that former Interior Minister Soylu decided not to proceed with five cases and effectively covered them up. 

These cases were concerned with corrupt activities during urban transformation and railway construction projects as well as offers of free services to pro-government foundations and local AKP branches.  

One example took place in 2015 when theİBB sub-company KİPTAŞ constructed a building for the Turkish Youth Foundation (TÜGVA) established by Bilal Erdoğan, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's son. 

The municipality also paid the water, electricity, and gas bills of the pro-government TÜGVA and the July 15 Foundation, founded by AKP members and deputies. The services offered to such organizations amounted to 847.6 million Turkish Lira (around $30 million ). 

The current IBB administration appealed to the State Council about the Ministry decree signed by Soylu. 

Current Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu in 2020 said that the Interior Ministry's intervention in the Municipality’s corruption investigations was unprecedented. He described the takeover an "intimidation effort" and added that they would be closely following the cases. 

The Interior Ministry remained silent on the remaining 31 corruption cases three years after it took over the investigation.

The catering services provided to local AKP branches by the İBB company Beltur and dinners organized under descriptions such as “rally,” “AKP Group,” “Mr. Binali (former Turkish Prime Minister from the ruling AKP),” and “security of Mr. Binali," were among 31 cases.

Another case was regarding the amusement park lot worth 429.7 million Turkish Lira (15 million dollar) the İBB acquired from a company co-owned by former mayor Kadir Topbaş’s son-in-law and former “Fetullahist Terror Organization” (FETÖ) case defendant Ömer Faruk Kavurmacı.