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Audit reports revealing irregularities in AKP-run municipalities removed from website: report

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The Turkish Court of Accounts has removed from its official website audit reports for the year 2019 that revealed irregularities in some of the provincial and district municipalities run by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), the Cumhuriyet daily said in a report on Saturday.

“The Court of Accounts released audit reports of the municipalities for 2019. However, the reports were removed from the court’s official website shortly afterwards. The reports we were able to download before they were removed included striking findings,” the daily said.

The audit for İstanbul’s Esenler Municipality reportedly stated that 19 executive assistants who at various times served the district mayor, in office since 2009, were appointed to other civil servant positions without taking an examination.

Unlike other civil servants in Turkey, executive assistants do not need to pass an exam to be appointed to the position. A number of mayors, therefore, have been accused of abusing the position in order to appoint them to other civil servant posts without testing.

According to the report, among executive assistants appointed to the Esenler Municipality, those who served between July 28, 2016 and Jan. 9, 2017 were then appointed as state architects, and those who served between Dec. 15, 2010, and Aug. 4, 2011 were subsequently appointed as state biologists without taking an exam.

Turkish state broadcaster TRT, İstanbul’s Güngören district municipality and the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources are among the public institutions to which the remaining nine executive assistants were appointed, the report said.

It was also revealed that eight of the executive assistants were appointed to the municipality without obtaining permission from the relevant ministry.

The audit report also disclosed that the municipality provided TL 1,750 ($229) a month to the offices of all mukhtars, or neighborhood heads, for help in meeting their needs.

“The mukhtars’ offices must use their own income to pay for expenditures related to the office,” the report said.

The audit report for the Gaziantep Metropolitan Municipality showed that some of the companies that have operating rights for the municipality’s immovable properties transferred those rights to third parties without holding a tender.

Uğur Kalkan, a city council member in Gaziantep’s Şahinbey district from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), tweeted about the deleted audit reports.

“I examined the audit reports on the official website of the Court of Accounts on Thursday night, and they shut down the relevant part of the website on Friday morning. This is the first time I’ve ever seen such a thing,” Kalkan said in a tweet.

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