Hulusi Akar, Turkish defense minister and former chief of general staff, secretly bought several apartments for his children from the state-owned Housing Development Administration of Turkey (TOKİ), paid for in cash and never declared on his financial disclosure form, a former general said.
According to the testimony of former brigadier general Mehmet Partigöç at the Ankara 17th High Criminal Court on March 12, 2019, a copy of which was obtained by Nordic Monitor, Akar failed to mention the purchase in a declaration filed with the Bureau for Generals and Admirals although he was obligated to disclose all his assets including cash reserves.
“Your Honor, all generals in the TSK [Turkish Armed Forces] are obliged to declare their assets to the the Bureau for Generals and Admirals. They report even the slightest change in their wealth. And they’re very sensitive about it. I mean, they even report their wife’s [wedding] ring and jewelry,” he said.
Akar, however, failed do so in his declaration filed with the bureau, Partigöç said, adding that the documents which showed Akar’s secret transactions were kept in a safe in his office at General Staff headquarters but that those documents mysteriously disappeared in the aftermath of a July 15, 2016 attempted coup.
“Hulusi Akar bought two or three houses for each child from TOKİ in the months before July 15. He paid for them in cash and not through a bank transfer,” Partigöç explained. The secret transaction was processed through a former colonel who is now working for Turkish intelligence agency MIT, he further said. The colonel, whose name was not revealed by Partigöç, used to work as chief of staff to Akar before moving to the intelligence agency.
Former brigadier general Mehmet Partigöç’s testimony on Hulusi Akar:Partigoc_testimony_Akar_toki
“Where did all this money come from? Where did that cash come from?” he asked in court, stressing that his office at the General Staff, the Personnel Directorate, knew all the assets of generals and admirals including the chief of general staff.
TOKİ is a Turkish government-run entity whose mandate is to build affordable housing and apartments on public land for low and middle-income families. Under the government of then prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, it was the subject of major corruption investigations in 2013 which revealed how government officials including cabinet ministers were involved in kickbacks and graft, secretly making sales to cronies and associates of Erdoğan.
Col. Fırat Alakuş, who worked in the Special Forces Command’s (Özel Kuvvetler Komutanlığı, or ÖKK) intelligence section, also revealed in court testimony that some army generals discretely enriched themselves from Qatari funds destined for jihadists in Syria as well as ransom paid to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) during hostage negotiations.
Appearing in court on Match 20, 2019 Alakuş said some of the money given to ISIS by Turkey was actually pocketed by a Turkish official who used the embezzled funds to purchase some two dozen apartments in Ankara. He did not name the official in his testimony. But he highlighted the name of Lt. Gen. Zekai Aksakallı, who was charge of the ÖKK, as one of the Turkish generals who profited from the war industry.
Partigöç, 54, head of the Personnel Directorate at the General Staff, was tried for his alleged involvement in the failed coup in 2016 which was believed by many to have been a false flag orchestrated by President Erdoğan, Akar and intelligence chief Hakan Fidan.
He denied having any role in the attempted coup during his trial, which was marred by a lack of access to evidence by the defense, severe restrictions on the rights of the defendants and a systematic rejection of motions filed by defense lawyers who sought to shed light on new evidence. Dubious evidence against Partigöç was mainly based on secret witness testimony that fell apart during the hearings when challenged by the defense with facts.
He was convicted in November 2019 and handed down 141 aggravated life sentences.