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Oktay goes on defensive over bribery scandal, says he is clean

File photo: Fuat Oktay who has now been embroiled in a $50 million scandal

Turkey’s former Vice President Fuat Oktay said on Thursday he has nothing to do with bribery allegations linking him to Turkish Cypriot businessman Halil Falyali, who was murdered in 2022.

The scandal broke earlier in the week, when it emerged from audio of Cemil Onal, a prisoner in a Dutch jail, a $50 million bribe had been given to Oktay from the family via authorities in the north.

During a foreign policy committee session, now MP Oktay said: “If you are looking for an excuse to mud sling, you have found the wrong person.”

He said that he is clean, and that all his relatives are clean, and that he has already submitted a criminal investigation into the matter with Turkey’s legal service,

“I am clean. You can take it all the way, whatever may happen,” he said.

This is Oktay’s first reaction to the news, which pegged Oktay on the receiving end of a multimillion bribe to protect the Falyali’s assets in Turkey.

Turkish Cypriot leader Ersin Tatar was also pinned in the scandal, with Onal in the audio saying Tatar acted at the mediator for the money to reach Oktay.

Tatar denied the allegations, saying: “I neither heard nor saw anything. It has nothing to do with me. I have no knowledge, and I don’t believe [Mr Fuat] Oktay would engage in such a thing.”

The story came to light by investigative journalist Cevheri Guven, who shared an audio saying former Turkish vice-president and Cyprus problem adviser in Turkey Fuat Oktay, received a $50 million ‘gift’ from someone in Turkish Cypriot businessman Halil Falyali’s circle.

Onal described how Ozge Falyali, Halil’s wife, contacted Tatar through Alihan Pehlivan, the editor-in-chief of Gundem Kıbrıs daily, shortly after her husband’s murder.

This allegedly paved the way for the $50 million bribery scheme coordinated by Tatar.

Falyali was murdered in 2022, a year after Turkish organized crime boss Sedat Peker made allegations implicating Turkey’s government in an international cocaine ring extending from Venezuela to the Middle East.

According to the allegations, the money was laundered by Falyali in the north.

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