Erdogan’s son accused of money laundering in Italy
The son of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, 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 was opened after Murat Hakan Uzan, a businessman and political opponent of the Erdogan family, made the allegations about money laundering to the Italian authorities.
Mr Uzan, who is in exile in France and claims to have been persecuted by the Erdogan regime, claimed that Bilal Erdogan was stockpiling money in Italy because he saw the country as a potential bolt-hole should he face problems at home.
Mr Uzan, a wealthy businessman, filed a criminal complaint with prosecutors in Bologna, accusing the president’s son of contravening Italy’s financial laws by bringing in huge amounts of money without declaring it to the authorities.
Giovanni Trombini, a lawyer for Bilal Erdogan, said: “I have nothing to say. Trials should be held in court, not in the press.”
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.
Bilal, who is one of President Erdogan’s four children, has commercial interests in shipping and oil tankers.
In December Russian accused him and his family of profiting from the illegal smuggling of oil from territory held by ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
He denied that, insisting that he did no business in either country.