Turkey Sacks Top Cops Amid Scandal

Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan

The Turkish government fired some 350 police officers and department heads overnight Tuesday, a result of the unfolding multi-billion-dollar bribery-and-money-laundering scandal.

The 350 officers snared in the midnight sacking include chiefs of the financial crimes, anti-smuggling, cybercrime and organized crime units, reports the Middle East news website Now. The policemen were based in the Turkish capital Ankara.

Since the multi-billion-dollar money laundering scandal broke last December, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has fired hundreds of police officials across the country, including the Istanbul police chief.

It is expected PM Erdogan will replace at least 10 cabinet ministers sometime before local elections in March. Three ministers – Interior Minister Muammer Guler, Economy Minister Zafer Caglayan, and Suleyman Aslan, the chief executive of state-owned Halkbank, have resigned over their sons being arrested in the scandal. The interior and economy ministers have denied any misconduct.

Turkish protesters throw shoes at Halkbank, which is accused of laundering money and gold transfers to Iran, on December 19.

Turkish protesters throw shoes at Halkbank, which is accused of laundering money and gold transfers to Iran, on December 19.

The Turkish scandal involves officials being accused of taking massive bribes to approve of projects and securing construction permits for protected areas. It then spirals outward into a massive money laundering scandal involving shadow companies set up to transfer hundreds of billions of dollars between neighboring Russia and Azerbaijan to Iran, allegedly in an effort to skirt sanctions set up by the international community to stop the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program.

The Turkish investigation comes about the same time the U.S. State Department and Treasury having “blacklisted” a dozen entities doing businees with Iran.

Several lawmakers have also stepped down as a result of the scandal, including Hasan Hami Yildirim. The parliamentarian had been critical of the government for exerting pressure on the judiciary over the corruption probe.

PM Erdogan has blasted “outside forces” of attempting to topple his 11-year rule. He has also agreed to comply to the ongoing investigation.

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