Turkish minister admits accepting bribes, according to leaked recordings

In an audio clip leaked on Sunday on YouTube, it is claimed that former Economy Minister Zafer Çağlayan told Reza Zarrab — an Iranian businessman of Azeri origin living in Turkey who was arrested as part of a graft probe which went public in December last year– that a bribe he had received was 10 million euros less than promised.

In the clip, allegedly recorded on April 6 last year, Zarrab is heard telling a certain Abdullah Happani — thought to be in charge of Zarrab’s money dealings — that Çağlayan had told Zarrab that he had received 10 million euros less than the figure recorded on thethe Excel document on which the names of those paid by Zarrab are listed.

According to the clip, Happani is very surprised by Çağlayan’s claim and makes it clear that he is confident that there was nomistake in the payments allegedly made to Çağlayan. “It is not possible that the money we gave does not correspond [to our records],” Happani is heard saying.

Zarrab, however, believes it is possible that a mistake may have been made in the records and insists that Happani should check allthe records again. “We may have given it to Süleyman [possibly a reference to Süleyman Aslan, former general manager of the publicHalkbank, who was also arrested as part of the corruption probe], and we might have recorded it as having been placed in his [Çağlayan’s] account,” Sarraf is heard saying.

In the recording, which was leaked by a Twitter user called “Haramzadeler333,” Zarrab also tells Happani that Çağlayan could not have checked whether he was given the right amount of money based a document he had, because Çağlayan had told him(Zarrab) that he (Çağlayan) had already disposed of all documents related to the receipt of money. In the end, Zarrab and Happaniagree to go over their own records to see if there were any mistakes.

In the summary of the proceedings sent by prosecutors in charge of the graft investigation, Çağlayan allegedly accepted a total of $52 million in bribes on 28 different occasions from Zarrab. Çağlayan is also said to have accepted a watch worth 300,000 Swiss francs (TL 700,000) as a bribe from Zarrab, and to have used Zarrab’s private jet, together with his family, to fly to Saudia Arabia to perform Umrah (pilgrimage to Mecca) last year.


About yavuzbaydar

Yavuz Baydar has been an award-winning Turkish journalist, whose professional activity spans nearly four decades. In December 2013, Baydar co-founded the independent media platform, P24, Punto24, to monitor the media sector of Turkey, as well as organizing surveys, and training workshops. Baydar wrote opinion columns, in Turkish, liberal daily Ozgur Dusunce and news site Haberdar, and in English, daily Today's Zaman, on domestic and foreign policy issues related to Turkey, and media matters, until all had to cease publications due to growing political oppression. Currently, he writes regular chronicles for Die Süddeutsche Zeitung, and opinion columns for the Arab Weekly, as well as analysis for Index on Censorship. Baydar blogs with the Huffington Post, sharing his his analysis and views on Turkish politics, the Middle East, Balkans, Europe, U.S-Turkish relations, human rights, free speech, press freedom, history, etc. His opinion articles appeared at the New York Times, the Guardian, El Pais, Svenska Dagbladet, and Al Jazeera English online. Turkey’s first news ombudsman, beginning at Milliyet daily in 1999, Baydar worked in the same role as reader representative until 2014. His work included reader complaints with content, and commentary on media ethics. Working in a tough professional climate had its costs: he was twice forced to leave his job, after his self-critical columns on journalistic flaws and fabricated news stories. Baydar worked as producer and news presenter in Swedish Radio &TV Corp. (SR) Stockholm, Sweden between 1979-1991; as correspondent for Scandinavia and Baltics for Turkish daily Cumhuriyet between 1980-1992, and the BBC World Service, in early 1990's. Returning to Turkey in 1994, he worked as reporter and ediytor for various outlets in print, as well as hosting debate porogrammes in public and private TV channels. Baydar studied informatics, cybernetics and, later, had his journalism ediucatiob in the University of Stockholm. Baydar served as president of the U.S. based International Organizaton of News Ombudsmen (ONO) in 2003. He was a Knight-Wallace Fellow at University of Michigan in 2004. Baydar was given the Special Award of the European Press Prize (EPP), for 'excellence in journalism', along with the Guardian and Der Spiegel in 2014. He won the Umbria Journalism Award in March 2014 and Caravella/Mare Nostrum Prize in 2015; both in Italy. Baydar completed an extensive research on self-censorship, corruption in media, and growing threats over journalism in Turkey as a Shorenstein Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.
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