Council of State president responds to bribery allegations

Council of State president responds   to bribery allegations

Hüseyin Karakullukçu (Photo: AA)

July 25, 2012, Wednesday/ 17:06:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN

Hüseyin Karakullukçu has both openly and secretly met with a man who is alleged to be attempting to obtain a lighter sentence for a suspect in a major investigation involving an export fraud ring, the Milliyet daily reported on Tuesday.

In the statement, he said the report in the daily does not reflect reality and explained that it was written without making any inquiries. He criticized the report, which showed separate pictures of the suspect and himself along with information about an alleged telephone conversation the two had, calling it incompatible with the standards of journalism.

He condemned the story, which he says aims to abuse the Council of State by depicting individuals who work for the institution as offenders that have ties to criminals. “Since I was elected president of the Council of State, I have always expressed at each meeting with the media that I accept an open and transparent work ethic,” Karakullukçu stated. “I often repeated judges and prosecutors have a right to be in social places as they are human beings as well, and I also stressed that any problems that arise due to their social life should not reflect on their occupation.”

He concluded the statement with, “I respectfully announce to the public that such a news report is misleading and has nothing to do with reality.”

Meanwhile, Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Muharrem İnce submitted a motion on Tuesday challenging Justice Minister Sadullah Ergin to provide a response to the paper’s accusations of bribery. “If the allegations in the media that Karakullukçu has been in contact with individuals who are being tracked as part of an investigation are true, is Karakullukçu going to resign from his post? Is it ethical for him to be in contact with these individuals?” İnce asked in the motion. According to the report in the Milliyet daily -- which the newspaper said contains information obtained from police records -- Karakullukçu met a man named Yalçın Bayrak, who was working on behalf of Barbaros Hayrettin Aksoy, one of the key suspects in the export fraud probe, three times between Feb. 15 and March 12 of last year.

The first two meetings occurred at Karakullukçu’s office at the Council of State in Ankara and the third took place inside a car, again in Ankara. The financial crimes unit of the İstanbul Police Department uncovered a case of major export fraud in which more than two dozen people allegedly conspired to export non-existent items for millions of dollars’ worth of tax refunds from the state. The probe has identified 65 suspects, including Aksoy, and accused them of having illegally received TL 51 million ($29 million) in value-added tax (KDV) refunds from the state in return for TL 900 million ($510 million) in goods and services they claimed to have sold or provided overseas between 2009 and 2011. Also among the suspects are Ministry of Customs and Ministry of Finance officials, as well as certified public accountants.

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