News & Politics

Son of Turkish President Faces Accusations of Money Laundering in Italy

(AP Photo/Rasit Aydogan, Pool)

Bilal Erdoğan, son of Turkish President Erdoğan, is in trouble in Italy: he’s the subject of a criminal investigation into money laundering.

Bilal moved to the Italian city of Bologna in the autumn of last year, supposedly to study for a doctorate. Critics of the increasingly authoritarian and Islamist regime of his father, however, said from day one that the real reason was that he might have faced corruption and money laundering accusations in Turkey. It now seems that these critics may have been on to something:

The son of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkey’s president, is being investigated in Italy over claims of money-laundering and bringing millions of dollars in cash into the country without authorisation.

Prosecutors in Bologna have opened an investigation into the financial dealings of Bilal Erdogan, 35, who is currently living in the city with his family while he studies for a doctorate at an offshoot of Johns Hopkins University. He has been living in the historic city, in the region of Emilia-Romagna, since last October.

The investigation has been opened after Murat Hakan Uzan, a wealthy Turkish businessman currently in exile in France because the Erdoğan-regime considers him an enemy of the state (after all, that’s what happens when you dare criticize the wannabe Turkish caliph), made the allegations to Italian authorities. According to Uzan — and other critics of the regime — Bilal Erdoğan took large amounts of money with him when he moved to Italy, without declaring it to the authorities.

The claims of money laundering are being investigated by Manuela Cavallo, Bologna’s chief public prosecutor. Calls to her office were not answered. Giovanni Trombini, a lawyer for Bilal Erdogan, said: “I have nothing to say. Trials should be held in court, not in the press.”

That’s a rather remarkable statement for someone defending the Turkish president’s son; a president who is constantly attacking his critics, not just in courtrooms, but first and foremost outside of them by vilifying and smearing them as traitors

Critics of the Turkish government claim that the younger Erdogan moved to Italy in order to flee a corruption scandal which broke in 2013. Wiretapped telephone conversations were leaked in which two people alleged to be President Erdogan and his son were heard discussing how to dispose of large sums of cash.

The conversations allegedly took place in December 2013, on the day that sons of three Cabinet ministers were detained as part of a vast corruption investigation. The Turkish government insisted they were fabricated. Both the president and his son denied any wrongdoing..

Remarkably — or if you know the Turkish media, expectedly — the Turkish press is completely silent about this criminal investigation. The only Turks who know about it are those who speak English — a very small minority. Every other voter in Turkey has no idea what’s going on, and that’s all due to President Erdoğan’s war on the press: stifling all dissent, banning critical journalists and even imprisoning them.