TV host Arslan detained in Turkey's charity fraud probe
Uğur Arslan. Photo: AA
Famous TV host Uğur Arslan was detained on Tuesday as part of an investigation into alleged corruption at the German-based Turkish charity Deniz Feneri.
Arslan, who was hosting the charity's TV program broadcast on the Kanal 7 TV station, was detained in İstanbul and taken to Ankara for interrogation. Arslan currently hosts a match-making TV program. Six people have been arrested so far as part of the fraud probe, which includes former Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) head Zahit Akman, Kanal 7 Deputy General Manager İsmail Karahan, News Editor Mustafa Çelik, CFO Erdoğan Kara and Kanal 7 CEO Zekeriya Karaman. Ali Solak, who is suspected of acting as the “bank” for the suspected charity fraud ring, was also arrested as part of the investigation into the charity's Turkish links.
The Deniz Feneri suspects are being accused of funneling money collected for charity from pious workers in Germany into various companies and businesses in Turkey. Solak is accused of being the person in charge of distributing this money. In September 2008 a German court convicted three Turkish men of funneling $26 million in charitable contributions raised by Deniz Feneri to companies run by conservative individuals in Turkey.
The scrutiny of Deniz Feneri began in 2008 when German prosecutors began to investigate the charity's suspicious activities. In September of that year, three men from Deniz Feneri were found guilty of fraud. The Frankfurt Supreme Court handed down a prison sentence of five years, 10 months to Mehmet Gürhan and two years, nine months to Mehmet Taşkan. Suspect Firdevsi Ermiş was released with a suspended sentence of one year, 10 months.