İstanbul mayor reveals first AKP-era corruption documents, files 23 criminal complaints

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İstanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu has revealed the first dossier concerning alleged corruption in the municipality during Justice and Development Party (AKP) rule and filed criminal complaints against 23 people including a government minister on allegations of corruption, according to Turkish media outlets.

Last week İmamoğlu, from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), announced that the municipality was working on some 40 files of data detailing illegal spending and irregularities in the municipality during the rule of AKP and would inform the public when they were ready to file complaints.

The first corruption file revealed by İmamoğlu concerns payment of 13.5 million Turkish lira to a media company, İstanbul Digital Media Commerce Inc., on April 17, 2019 just hours before İmamoğlu assumed office.

Officials at the municipality reportedly made the payment shortly before the handover of power because they knew İmamoğlu would halt municipal payments once he assumed control of municipal affairs.

Other large payments made by the municipality to the company in return for services such as video preparation, technical support and updating and graphic design for the municipality’s websites are included in the file.

The owner of the media company is Abdurrahman Tığ, a failed candidate for parliament from the AKP in the June 2018 general election.

According to a report from the municipality’s inspection board, the company did not offer services in line with criteria specified in the tender, and the public suffered financial loss due to the payments made to the company.

The 23 subjects of the criminal complaints include former municipal officials, current Transportation Minister Adil Karaismailoğlu, who was the former deputy secretary-general of the İstanbul Municipality, and officials from the company including its owner Tığ.

İmamoğlu assumed 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. The election had to be repeated due to the AKP’s objection to İmamoğlu’s initial victory, who won by an even larger margin in the repeat poll.

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

Referring to the corruption allegations against members of the AKP, 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.”

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