The İzmir Police Department’s Organized Crime Unit raided the Turkish State Railways (TCDD) İzmir Port Authority in a pre-dawn operation on Tuesday and took 27 people into custody over allegations of rigging public tenders.
The İzmir Port Authority operates under the Turkish Ministry of Transport, Maritime Affairs and Communications.
Among the suspects detained were TCDD İzmir Port Operating Manager T.Y., TCDD İzmir Port Deputy Operating Manager B.B., TCDD İzmir Port Business Operations Manager Y.Ş.A., TCDD İzmir Port official N.A. as well as two other officials, H.B. and A.O.Y. The Cihan news agency reported that Yusuf Öztürk, chairman of the executive board of the Turkish Chamber of Shipping’s İzmir branch, was also among the detainees.
Also on Tuesday, İzmir police chiefs who staged the raids were removed from their posts. The private Doğan news agency reported that Deputy Police Chief Mehmet Ali Şevik, Organized Crime Unit Deputy Chief Taner Aydın and Anti-Narcotics Unit Chief Behzat Tuzcu were removed from their posts later that day.
Claims have surfaced in the media that some suspects could not be detained because they had been warned about the investigation in advance. In a statement by the İzmir Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office, Chief Prosecutor Ali Haydar said that a warrant was issued on Jan. 6 for a total of 37 suspects. Twenty-seven of them were taken into custody, while three were released after making statements.
Footage shows public officials taking bribes
Video footage of approximately 100 instances of officials taking bribes was included in the police report, according to news outlets.
İzmir Police Chief Ali Bilkay, who was reassigned after he complied with the prosecutor’s order to launch the raids, told a daily that he feels comfortable because he served his country by doing his job. Bilkay was replaced by Sami Uslu, who was the police chief of Kastamonu province.
News reports have also claimed that officials allegedly involved in corruption in İzmir carried jammers with them to prevent their phones from being tapped.
Reports say that business representatives M. Can Bayoğlu and M. Tayfur Uzun met Cemalettin Haberdar and Muhsin Yılmaz, the head of the TCDD İzmir Port Authority, in a shopping mall a day before a tender for port equipment. Yılmaz is shown carrying a jammer in video footage of the incident. Uzun is seen with a package wrapped with newspaper.
Former Minister of Transportation Binali Yıldırım was a witness at Bayoğlu’s wedding.