EU probes corruption claims at Turkish gov't agency

Photo: EU probes corruption claims at Turkish gov't agency / Turkey

The European Commission has launched an investigation into allegations that a Turkish government agency misused EU funds Hurriyet Daily News reported.

The probe follows reports in Turkish media of tender-rigging and illegal recruitment at the Centre for EU Education and Youth Programmes in Ankara under former EU minister Egemen Bagis.

"The audit follows allegations of irregularities relating to a lack of transparency for staff recruitment and a lack of compliance with EU and national rules for procurement by the national agency," the Commission's education spokesman Dennis Abbott told AFP in an emailed statement March 5.

Bagis was replaced as EU minister after he was implicated in a major government corruption scandal that has set off the worst crisis in Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's 11-year rule.

Dozens of Erdogan's key business and political allies were rounded up in December over allegations of bribery in construction projects, money laundering, gold smuggling and illicit dealings with Iran.

Turkey's interior, economy and nevironment ministers all resigned from their posts after their sons were detained. The controversy has since widened to implicate Erdogan himself, after recordings were leaked online last week in which the premier can allegedly be heard discussing with his son hiding large sums of cash and conspiring to extort a bribe from a business associate.

The premier has accused supporters of self-exiled Islamic scholar Fethullah Gulen, who wields considerable influence in the judiciary and police, of launching the corruption probe to destabilise his government ahead of key local elections on March 30 and presidential elections in August.

Erdogan retaliated by sacking hundreds of police and prosecutors believed to be linked to Gulen, who denied any involvement in the scandal.

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