Allegations of the embezzlement of 11,481,000TL by the previous trustee administration of Mardin (Mêrdîn) Metropolitan Municipality have been dismissed following a ‘waiver’ by the succeeding trustees. Both sets of trustees were appointed by governments of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).
The controversy centred on “representation and hospitality expenses” incurred between 2016 and 2020 under the leadership of trustee Mustafa Yaman, reports Mezopotamya Agency’s Ahmet Kanbal.
Investigations revealed that the limited company Çağakan Tourism had submitted invoices for significantly more services than were possible, including instances of purported accommodation and meal provision in excess of four times a certain hotel’s capacity.
Furthermore, expense claims included gifts for high-ranking officials from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), with some invoices falsely issued in the names of prominent figures, including the former Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu.
Further scrutiny revealed inconsistencies, such as the Governorship of Mardin having denied any accommodation directives to the hotel during the specified period, and the inability of the Mardin Police Department to corroborate the claimed hotel stays. Additionally, it was found that the Representation and Hospitality budget of the Governorship of Mardin and the Directorate of Investment Monitoring and Coordination also made substantial payments to the hotel, raising questions about the authenticity of the invoiced services.
In an attempt to justify the inflated invoices, Mardin Municipality argued that despite the apparent overcapacity, meals were sometimes distributed to municipal employees and police officers as takeaways. The legal proceedings initiated against various individuals, including Yaman, his close associate Merve Erciyas Çatal and other municipal officials, were terminated following mutual ‘waiver’ claims, effectively closing the cases.
The resolution came on 14 December 2023, when the Municipal Council, reconstituted under the new trustee administration, agreed to mutually waive all related claims, court cases and financial disputes with Çağakan Tourism Ltd., aiming for a peaceful settlement and to close a contentious chapter in Mardin’s municipal governance.