The gendarmerie detained dozens of people, including civil servants, accused of forging documents to receive government funds for agriculture in operation Blue Strike, launched simultaneously in 10 provinces on Monday.
A statement released by the Balıkesir Governor's Office stated that the gendarmerie had detained members of three separate organized criminal groups for forging documents to receive financial support from the government for animal husbandry and thereby harming the economy.
The suspects received TL 10 million in interest-free funds from provincial departments of the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Animal Husbandry when in fact they were not involved in animal husbandry. The forged documents showed the members of the three groups owned 200,000 head of cattle across 10 provinces, enabling them to receive financial support from the state.
The Balıkesir provincial gendarmerie command launched an investigation following claims of corruption and fraud involving state funds by seizing documents from the provincial department of the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Animal Husbandry, the Balıkesir Regional Cooperative Livestock Union, the Union of Cattle Breeders, the Union of Milk and the Union of Sheep and Goat Raisers.
A gendarmerie team in cooperation with the Inspection Committee of the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Animal Husbandry began the investigation six months ago and concluded it this week after examining 15,000 documents. The operation was launched after inspectors concluded documents had been forged and manipulated, leading to the detention of more than 80 people, including of civil servants, across 10 provinces.
The operation revealed the existence of three separate criminal groups. These groups acted together and, with the help of civil servants of the regional departments of the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Animal Husbandry, fraudulently received state funds.