News Column

Former CHP leader asked Bayraktar for fee reduction in land transaction

September 3, 2014

ISTANBUL (CIHAN)- Main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) Antalya deputy Deniz Baykal asked former Environment and Urban Planning Minister Erdogan Bayraktar to do him a favor and reduce tax payments of TL 5 million that he owed in a land deal, the Cumhuriyet daily reported on Wednesday.

The daily published the minutes of a legally wiretapped phone conversation included in the appendices of the motions about the four then-ministers who were implicated in the corruption probes that were made public on Dec. 17 and 25 of last year.

Baykal, who had previously served as the leader of the CHP, called Bayraktar on Sept. 3, 2013, asking that he intervene in order to procure a reduction in the amount that Bayraktar's ministry charged in the form of the "planning fee and urban transformation contribution share payment" for a piece of land Baykal owns in Antalya.

The prosecutors who were carrying out the graft probe discovered the existence of this plea during a phone conversation purportedly between Bayraktar and the general manager of spatial planning at the same ministry, Mehmet Ali Kahraman. Bayraktar tells the official in his ministry about Baykal's call, and asks whether they really charged the CHP politician an amount as high as TL 5 million for what Bayraktar called "donations." Kahraman replies saying the actual amount is TL 2.6 million for a planning fee and around TL 2 million for the "urban transformation contribution share payment." He goes on to try to convince the minister that the land is large and is also in a very strategic position with a nice view so the share payment is not excessive for a piece of land like that.

"But Baykal says this place isn't worth [paying a] TL 5 million [fee]. So you may either scrap this money he is to pay as the share payment, or make a reduction in it," Bayraktar then told Kahraman, who responded by saying that he would do so.

Cumhuriyet spoke with Baykal by phone to ask him to clarify the matter of the wiretapped conversation. Baykal said the land in question was located in Antalya's Kas district and that the money that is legally required was paid for it. "If there was any demand of payment other than that which the law obligates, it wasn't paid," he told Cumhuriyet.

The daily asked Baykal if he paid TL 5 million as mentioned in the sound recording, to which the politician replied: "I don't remember the exact number but the amount officially required to be paid was paid. Any demand of payment that is not officially necessary was not carried out at all."

The 50,000 square meters of land are jointly owned by Baykal and his sister-in-law's son, SelÇuk Akiltopu. Located on the Çukurbag peninsula, it is adjacent to the Mediterranean Sea.

(Cihan/Today's Zaman) CIHAN

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Source: Cihan News Agency (Turkey)

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