Turkey releases former Halkbank CEO in graft investigation-media

by Reuters
Friday, 14 February 2014 10:08 GMT

ANKARA, Feb 14 (Reuters) - A former chief executive of Turkey's state-owned Halkbank detained in December as part of a corruption scandal that has shaken Turkey, was released on Friday, local media said.

Suleyman Aslan was among dozens of prominent business people, the sons of three cabinet ministers, and state officials questioned as part of the graft inquiry portrayed by Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan as a plot to undermine him.

Halkbank's Iranian business ties have drawn Western criticism although the bank has repeatedly said its dealings with Iran are entirely lawful.

Erdogan sees the graft investigation as orchestrated by his former ally, U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, whose followers are influential in Turkey's police force and judiciary.

The premier has responded by reassigning thousands of police officers and hundreds of judges and prosecutors, a move he says is aimed at cleansing the system of Gulen's influence and making it more independent.

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