Vice chair of Turkish Court of Accounts in charge of audits dismissed after report on widespread graft

Fikret Çöker, vice chairman of the Court of Accounts (Sayıştay) who has documented and reported irregularities in state institutions, has been dismissed from his job by the Turkish government led by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Çöker had also reported irregularities in government institutions and municipalities run by Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) that his team detected during audits in 2017.

The reports have been published on the official website of the court.

According to a report by Bianet, Zekeriya Tüysüz, who has been a member of the court since 2011, has been appointed in his place. Like Çöker, he will also be responsible for auditing public agencies within the scope of the central administration budget as well as ministries, municipalities and state-owned companies.

The Court of Accounts released a written statement on its official website on Tuesday and said: “The news reports regarding the dismissal of Fikret Çöker do not reflect the truth. His request to be re-appointed as a member of the court has been granted.

“In some media outlets there are some news reports that do not reflect the truth, stating that Fikret Çöker, vice chair of the Court of Accounts in charge of audits, has been dismissed from his job due to irregularities and corruption indicated in reports prepared by the court after the audits of public agencies and institutions in 2017.

“Fikret Çöker came to the office as an auditor in the Court of Accounts in 1992. He was elected as a member of the Court of Accounts in 2014, appointed as vice chair in charge of audit affairs on July 13, 2016, and his request to be re-appointed as a member of the court was approved by the Court of Accounts on November 2, 2018.

“It has been indicated in the approval of the Court of Accounts numbered 1854437 that the procedure in question was conducted in accordance with Fikret Çöker’s request. The procedure does not have any connection to the published reports of the Court of Accounts.

“Dr. Zekeriya Tüysüz, who took office as an auditor in the Court of Accounts in 1992 and was elected as a member in 2011, has been appointed as the vice chairman in charge of audit affairs.”

The auditors of the Court of Accounts go to the institution to be audited and examine all financial records. Since detailed information regarding what needs to be done and how as well as the ways in which a public loss could arise is indicated in the fiscal legislation, the auditors examine financial statements and investigate whether the institution has exceeded its authority.

Turkish opposition files criminal complaint about irregularities

Meanwhile, Canan Kaftancıoğlu, the İstanbul provincial chairman of Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), has filed a criminal complaint against the İstanbul Metropolitan Municipality (İBB) and the İstanbul Electric Tramway and Tunnel Enterprises (İETT) as well as the İstanbul Water and Sewer Administration (İSKİ) due to some $150 million (TL 753 million) in irregularities she claims were included in the latest report of Turkey’s Court of Accounts, the T24 news website reported on Tuesday.

In her complaint Kaftancıoğlu also demanded criminal prosecution of individuals such as former İstanbul Mayor Kadir Topbaş, current İstanbul Mayor Mevlüt Uysal, and İSKİ Director General Fatih Turan as well as Ahmet Bağış and Arif Emecan, former and current directors general of İETT.

Before submitting her complaint at the İstanbul Courthouse in Çağlayan, Kaftancıoğlu gave a press statement along with several CHP members who were present, saying: “The Court of Accounts reports for 2017 revealed irregularities and corruption by municipalities run by the ruling Justice and Development Party [AKP]. We are gathered here to file a criminal complaint against them.”

The Court of Accounts audit for 2017 revealed widespread irregularities by public institutions, most notably in the municipalities of İstanbul and Ankara as well as those in the Kurdish-dominated southeastern provinces where government-appointed trustees had replaced elected mayors.

The Ministry of Interior published a written statement on its official website on Tuesday claiming that “untrue reports that appeared on some websites on alleged corruption in municipalities such as Van, Siirt, Tunceli, Şırnak, Hakkari, Mardin, Ağrı and Diyarbakır constitute a manipulation of the Court of Accounts report.”

The ministry also claimed these reports were part of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party’s (PKK) strategy for local elections in 2019 that aims to regain these municipalities via Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) candidates by reducing public support for the government-appointed trustees. (SCF with turkishminute.com)

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