ANKARA, Turkey — Six suspects were detained in Turkey in an alleged fraud scheme involving defense industry contracts, the government announced.
The detentions, reported by the government on Jan. 12, came after a joint covert operation by the Turkish police force and the National Intelligence Organization, or MIT. The suspects are charged with selling classified and secret data pertaining to defense industry programs.
The chief prosecutor’s office in Ankara said the operation targeted “a group of people involved in illegal activities in defense industry.” MIT and the police said they had the suspects under surveillance since last year, having suspected them of influencing defense programs and contracts in exchange for bribes.
According to the prosecutor’s office, the suspects shared confidential data and information about the projects’ resources, pricing, technical specifications and contractual progress to foreign defense companies.
“Foreign company representatives shared this data with their companies and gained advantages in tenders and their own projects,” the statement from the prosecutor’s office said.
Five suspects were agents or representatives of foreign defense manufacturers, while one suspect was a former procurement official. Yusuf Hakan Özbilgin was a project director at the unmanned and smart systems department of Turkey’s procurement agency, the Presidency of Defence Industries.
Police reportedly seized $1.5 million in a search at Özbilgin’s home and about $400,000 in his bank vault. Police also said they seized digital evidence.
Another suspect was identified as Emre Alp Durmaz, who owns a consultancy company and is the son of Mehmet Durmaz, a prominent defense industry agent in Ankara. Two other suspects were identified by their initials as M.S.A., an agent company owner, and E.Ö, an employee at a company.
Burak Ege Bekdil was the Turkey correspondent for Defense News.