İstanbul mayor says municipality soon to reveal AKP-era corruption, irregularities

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İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu has said the municipality is currently working on some 40 files of data detailing incidences of illegal spending and irregularities in the municipality during the rule of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and will inform the public when they are ready to file complaints.

İmamoğlu, from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), claimed during an interview on Halk TV on Wednesday that they were able to detect over 40 incidents of illicit spending in the municipality during the AKP era.

“We were able to appoint new members to the municipality’s inspection board, people that we are on the same page with, only a few months ago. Right now, they are examining nearly 40 files of data including corruption claims in the municipality [under AKP rule],” the mayor said.

“The files include allegations related to tender rigging, overspending, loss of public funds and embezzlement,” İmamoğlu said, adding that they will share with the public the case files and complaints drafted on the data from those files.

The opposition mayor came to office after winning a decisive victory in a June 24 re-run election last year, ending the 25-year rule of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s AKP and its predecessors in the country’s largest city and commercial hub.

Soon after winning the seat, İmamoğlu told the Turkish press that he was informed of numerous incidents in the municipality in which files and documents were destroyed, implying corruption.

Referring to the corruption allegations against AKP members, the then-newly appointed mayor said he would hold them to account for “every kuruş [1 percent of 1 Turkish lira] coming out of people’s pockets in İstanbul.”

İmamoğlu had previously annulled agreements with six AKP-linked foundations amid an investigation into municipal expenditures following reports showing the AKP municipality had spent TL 357 million ($45 million) from its municipal budget on foundations alone.

In October 2018, audit reports released by the Court of Accounts revealed a number of alleged wrongdoings and illicit spending by municipal administrations run by the AKP government in 2017.

A group of CHP members filed a criminal complaint against former İstanbul mayors Kadir Topbaş and Mevlüt Uysal based on the audits showing that malpractice involving a total of TL 753 million ($96 million) occurred within government offices that operate under the municipality.

From December 17 to December 25, 2013, 89 people were detained as part of a corruption probe in which the governing AKP faced serious allegations of corruption. An İstanbul court sentenced the police officers who carried out the corruption investigations to life imprisonment in 2018.

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