Baku-APA. Economy Minister Zafer ÇaÄŸlayan accepted a valuable watch worth 300,000 Swiss francs (TL 700,000) as a bribe from Reza Zarrab, an Iranian businessman of Azerbaijani origin who lives in Turkey and who is currently being detained as part of a major investigation into alleged bribery linked to public tenders and money laundering, according to phone records acquired by Today's Zaman.
According to recorded conversations, ÇaÄŸlayan wanted Zarrab to buy a Patek Philippe 5101G watch that ÇaÄŸlayan had admired during one of his visits to Geneva, Switzerland. Zarrab allegedly sent one of his employees to Geneva to buy the watch and had it delivered it to Onur Kaya, ÇaÄŸlayan's personal assistant at 1:25 a.m. on Sept. 25, 2013.
The phone records would seem to prove the ÇaÄŸlayan received a bribe from Zarrab.
In a phone conversation between Zarrab and Kaya that took place at 4:45 p.m. on Sept. 24, 2013, Onur asks Zarrab, “When will that thing be in Ä°stanbul?” to which Zarrab responds, “I was planning to send that thing to Ankara, not Ä°stanbul.” Kaya replies: “Ankara is okay. It doesn't make any difference. Ankara is better.”
In another conversation at 5:25 p.m. on Sept. 24, 2013 between Murat YÄ±lmaz, one of Zarrab's employees and a member of ÇaÄŸlayan's security team whose first name is Emrah, YÄ±lmaz is heard saying: “I am in Switzerland. My boss sent to me here. I already bought that thing [the watch]. I will be in Ankara at about midnight or 12:30 a.m. I wanted to call you to determine how I can deliver that thing to you. By the way, do you want any thing from here for your wife or children?” In response, Emrah says, “I will take that thing from you, is that OK?”
YÄ±lmaz responded, “Yes, there is a thing needs to be given the gentleman [Minister ÇaÄŸlayan].”
A text message sent from Murat YÄ±lmaz to Zarrab at 6:16 p.m. on Sept. 24, 2013 reads: “Mr. Reza, I am going to deliver the thing [the watch] to the gentleman through his personal bodyguard at 00:30 a.m. [on Sept. 25]. I am only calling to inform you.”
Murat YÄ±lmaz landed in Ankara on a flight from Geneva at 10:30 p.m. on Sept. 24.
A still from security camera footage that Today's Zaman also acquired shows Murat YÄ±lmaz took a watch from his backpack while passing through the X-ray machines in Ä°stanbul Atatürk Airport.
In another phone conversation between Zarrab and Onur Kaya on Sept. 25, 2013, Zarrab informs Kaya about the transfer of the gift. He is heard stating, “Mr. Onur, for your information, that thing was delivered to Mr. Emrah last night.” Onur Kaya replies: “Ok, that thing has just reached me. It is in the bag. I am looking at it now. Mr. Reza, thank you very much.”