Investigating Corruption in Turkey: Courageous People Stand Up

Power struggles in Turkey between the government and the military have resulted in claims of corruption within the government through the activities of family members within the ruling elite. It has resulted in the arrest and interviewing of numerous people associated with the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). Around eighteen million dollars has been seized by police in Turkey, which was allegedly used for bribery. Bank directors, the sons of politicians and shady businessmen are alleged to be tied up in a web of corruption at the very top of the Turkish administration.

Fourteen people have been accused of bribery, corruption, fraud, money laundering and smuggling gold. Four cabinet ministers within the government have been forced to resign. In response there have been allegations that  the entire investigation is as an attempt at a coup, instigated by the military, to topple the government. Also there have been sackings of thousands of police, prosecutors and judges; and crack downs on the media’s coverage of the investigation.

Investigating corruption in Turkey: courageous people stand up, but many of them have been quickly silenced. The question of which series of allegations from either side of the furor to believe is at the heart of the matter. A government minister has hinted that Israel was involved in the attempt to destabilise the ruling party in Turkey. The AKP have pointed the finger at both the US and Israel over the last twelve months. Investigation techniques training may be needed if future investigations are to stand up to official scrutiny.

Most recently, the graft probe has  been shut down,  and the seized money has been returned, with interest, to those previously accused of corruption. Disappointingly Turkey is now considered by Transparency International’s annual Corruption Perception Index to be more likely to be involved in corruption.  This is extremely damaging for the Turkish economy and future foreign investment.

The challenges facing Turkey, with Syria on its border and Daesh actively pursuing a local terrorist agenda, are immense. It will take strong leadership and a powerful intent to resist corruption if Turkey is to emerge from the challenges intact and economically growing. The Ottoman Empire was, eventually, brought down as much by internal corruption as it was by external forces; one can only hope that the current Turkish administration can learn from the pages of history what it must do to survive and thrive. Power is a two edged sword and it must be wielded with both wisdom and authority.