Reza Zarrab’s company paid only TL 360 in taxes

Reza Zarrab’s company paid only TL 360 in taxes

Main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu (Photo: Today's Zaman)

May 06, 2014, Tuesday/ 18:44:32/ TODAY'S ZAMAN / ISTANBUL
A company owned by an Iranian businessman who has alleged questionable ties to the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government has paid only TL 360 in taxes, according to Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu.

Speaking at his party's parliamentary group meeting yesterday, Kılıçdaroğlu slammed the governing party over its shady ties to Iranian businessman Reza Zarrab, who allegedly bribed several former ministers in return for favors.

The CHP leader asked why Reza Zarrab -- who recently claimed to have closed 15 percent of Turkey's current account deficit gap through illegal gold trade with Iran -- was not on the list of top taxpayers announced on Monday. He also announced the amount of tax paid by several companies in which Zarrab owns stakes. He said Zarrab's company Royal Shipping had paid TL 7 million in taxes, while Royal Holding had only paid TL 360. Volgan Food had paid TL 1.3 million and Safir Altın had paid TL 1.9 million in taxes. Three other companies -- Royal Furniture, Arca Hotels and an aviation company -- did not pay any taxes, according to Kılıçdaroğlu.

“Why isn't the man who claims to have closed Turkey's current account deficit on this list [of highest tax payers]? They [businessmen close to the government] actually do pay taxes, but they don't know where to pay. They pay directly to [Recep Tayyip] Erdoğan, the parallel tax office!” Kılıçdaroğlu said.

Kılıçdaroğlu also commemorated the three left-wing political activists who were hanged on May 6, 1972, one year after the March 12, 1971 military intervention. “They never compromised any of their ideals. They didn't have any personal interests. All they wanted was a free and independent Turkey. They died for their ideals. We will always remember them. Society shall never forget them,” he said.

The government of Prime Minister Erdoğan has been dogged by graft allegations for months after scores of people -- including government officials and the sons of three then-ministers -- were detained by police on Dec. 17, 2013. Parliament on Monday voted to set up a commission to investigate alleged corruption by the four former ministers.

Kılıçdaroğlu said the Dec. 17 investigation was not, as the government suggests, a plot to overthrow it, but rather a random investigation that started on Feb. 17, 2012, when the police found heroin inside a truck at Turkey's Kapıkule border gate. The police traced the heroin down to a currency exchange office in İstanbul's Grand Bazaar. The police went to the prosecutors to wiretap the phone lines of the suspects, and that's how the investigation started, Kılıçdaroğlu said, claiming that the owner of the exchange office was a businessman close to the government. The CHP leader also claimed that the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) had come to be aware of the fact that the allegations would reach the government and warned Prime Minister Erdoğan of that possibility in a report it submitted to the prime minister on April 18, 2013.

Kılıçdaroğlu said the MİT report stated in its conclusive remarks that the links Zarrab has to the economy minister and the minister of interior might work against the government. He said the report will come to the investigation commission and the CHP will share it with the public. “They censored Meclis TV so that the people would not find out about this. The person responsible for this is the parliament speaker. It is Cemil Çiçek. How can you possibly shut the people out of Parliament?”

The CHP leader said by censoring the session the AK Party had also censored the former ministers, who all deny any wrongdoing. He also said the graft allegations have taught Turkey the concept of the so-called “pool media,” in which -- according to voice recordings leaked online in March -- several businessmen close to the government contributed to a “money pool” to buy several media outlets so that those outlets would publish news in line with the government's agenda.