Turkish minister refuses to answer question on tax audits of SADAT, cites 'confidentiality' clause

A main opposition CHP lawmaker has asked Finance Minister Nureddin Nebati if the government was performing tax audits on the paramilitary company SADAT, but the minister left the question unanswered, citing the “confidentiality" clause.

This file photo shows officials of SADAT.

Duvar English

Main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) lawmaker Kani Beko has submitted a parliamentary question inquiring about the financial audit records of SADAT -- a private military firm with close ties to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Addressing Finance Minister Nureddin Nebati in his question, the CHP lawmaker asked if government tax officials were performing audits on the operations of SADAT, how much taxes were being collected, if the firm was paying premiums to the Social Security Institution (SGK), and if it had operations of export and import, daily Cumhuriyet reported on June 23.

In his answer, Nebati drew attention to the Tax Procedural Law's article on the “Secrecy of Taxes” and said that government cannot share the information that needs to stay “confidential.”

Last month, CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu had implied that SADAT was preparing to jeopardize the security of the 2023 general elections. “If anything happens to shake the security of the [2023] elections, SADAT and the [Presidential] Palace are the responsible ones,” Kılıçdaroğlu had said.

SADAT was founded in 2012 by former Turkish brigadier general Adnan Tanrıverdi, who was expelled from the military in 1996 because of his suspicions about Islamist activities.

Tanrıverdi served as an adviser to Erdoğan before being forced to resign from his post in January 2020 after telling a religious conference that SADAT was paving the way for the coming of the Mahdi, a messianic figure some Muslims believe will redeem mankind before the world ends.

CHP lawmaker Beko also inquired about the 1.6 million liras debt that Turkish-Iranian businessman Reza Zarrab owes to the SGK and asked Minister Nebati if an investigation was launched into this incident. Beko pointed out that one of the firms belonging to Zarrab, who fled Turkey in 2016 for the United States, is still in operation. In his answer, Nebati said that the issue was not under the scope of his ministry's authority, but instead the presidency. “The issues indicated in the parliamentary motion are under the responsibility of the vice presidency,” he said.

Zarrab was arrested in Miami in 2016 and charged with laundering billions of dollars in a big sanctions-evasion scheme. After he cooperated with the U.S. government and became a witness, he was offered leniency.