Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is being urged to step down by one of three Turkish cabinet ministers who have resigned because they have been accused of corruption. Environment Minister Erdogan Bayraktar, who resigned along with Economy Minister Zafer Caglayan and Interior Minister Muammer Guler, said that “a great proportion” of construction projects under investigation were approved by Erdogan, and added, “I want to express my belief that the esteemed prime minister should also resign.”
All three men resigned after their sons were arrested, but all three denied any charges against them. The investigation centers on illicit money transfers to Iran and bribery for construction projects. Caglayan and Guler’s sons were arrested on bribery charges; Bayraktar’s son was detained but later released. There were reports that police found $4.5 million in cash at the home of the chief executive officer of the state-run bank Halkbank. He was also arrested. $1 million more was found at the home of Guler’s son Baris.
Erdogan protested,”The AK Party does not overlook or tolerate corruption. If it does, it will have removed its raison d’etre.” Caglayan, who resigned on Wednesday, sneered at the investigation, “It is clear that the operation is a dirty conspiracy against our government, our party and our country. I am leaving my position at the economy ministry to spoil this ugly plot, which has involved my colleagues and my son, and to allow for the truth to be exposed.” Guler chimed in that there was a conspiracy against him and he could explain everything, and that wiretap recordings of a conversation with his son were tampered with. He argued that the cash in his son’s house was money his son profited by from the sale of a villa.