Global Independent Analytics
Alessandra Benignetti
Alessandra Benignetti

Location: Italy

Specialization: Foreign politics, Immigration, Human rights.

Bilal Erdogan in Bologna

Сharged with hiding himself from the Turkish corruption scandal of 2013 and escaping from Russians accusations

Charged by the Kremlin with the accusation of being collude in the illegal oil trade with Isis, the son of the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan is currently quietly living in the Italian city of Bologna. Or, at least, until a couple of weeks ago, when a Turkish businessman, a political opponents of president Erdogan, living in Bologna too, asked to the local court to open an investigation on Bilal Erdogan, related to a “possible amounts of money transferred in Italy by Erdogan’s son”. Laundering, in a few words. But is really Erdogan’s businessman and multimillionaire son Bilal, in Italy escaping from a big corruption scandal in his country?

According to the official version the son of Turkish president, Bilal, has temporarily moved to Italy in order to complete his doctoral studies in the American Johns Hopkins University. A doctorate began in 2007. For that reason now he has obtained a two years visa for him and his family and is now living in Bologna with his wife and his two children. But from others sources, as the antigovernment Twitter account Fuat Avni, Bilal Erdogan would be in Italy because he needs to escape from Turkey after being implicated in a corruption scandal in his country. In particular the antigovernment account and the Turkish businessman who has presented the accusation to the Bologna prosecutor’s office, affirmed that Bilal Erdogan has escaped to Italy last 27 of November in order to transfer a huge amount of money in the country, just before the early Turkish elections scheduled for the last 1st of November. According to the same sources of information, Bilal, has entered in Italy with a student visa, but his armed guards, have been provided in few hours with diplomatic Turkish passports. According to the petition, presented both in English and in Italian languages to the Bologna local court by the Turkish businessman, this would be the reason why “the personal guards of Bilal Erdogan, appears nowadays as attached to the Turkish diplomatic corps” accredited in Italy.

The political opponent of the Turkish government, that perceive himself and his family as a victim of a political and judiciary persecution from the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has also asserted that at the base of Bilal Erdogan’s escape from Turkey, would be the corruption scandal of 2013, where the main political figures of the Turkish government and president Erdogan himself were involved. The Turkish businessman who presented the petition to the public prosecutor of Bologna asserted that according to the wiretappings “prime minister Erdogan as soon as he noticed that the first wave of the police operation was about to start, has informed the son Bilal in order to prepare a transfer of money for an amount estimated to be around one billion dollars, correspondent to the price of the crimes for which he was accused”. Anyway the public prosecutor's office of Bologna a few days ago stated through the declarations of prosecutor Valter Giovannini, that has “nothing to say on the situation”. So, for now, it is not clear if the local prosecutor office will open an investigation on the alleged crime of laundering.

However, in a clarifying interview on the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, the son of Turkish president has denied all the accusation, both those of smuggling oil with Isis and those on the corruption  scandal. Despite the evidences claimed on the contrary by Russian, Iranian and Syrian governments, Bilal has denied any kind of involvement of his shipping company, the BMZ Ltd, in the illegal oil trade which funds Daesh in Syria and Iraq. “BMZ Ltd is a construction company, we just build offices in Istanbul. We have a deal for building tanks but we not operate with it”, said the son of Turkish president interviewed by the Italian newspaper. Last November, in fact, the Syrian Information minister Omran al-Zoubi, said that the oil smuggled by Daesh was transferred in Turkey through the tanks builded by the company of Erdogan’s son, and then provided with new documents and sells in the major Turkish port cities. The Syrian minister also accused the President’s son to buy oil and archeological manufactures from the jihadists. The Russian information network Sputnik, has also shown in different articles some pictures of Bilal Erdogan posing with jihadists of the Islamic State.

Bilal Erdogan, in the same interview, has also denied to be involved in the corruption scandal of 2013 in Turkey and in another statement, made through an Italian press agency, also affirmed that, on the contrary, he is going to finish his doctoral thesis in Bologna in maximum two years, and then he is ready to come back in Turkey.

In any case, is predictable that he will continue to be at the center of attention. Last week some writings against the Turkish president appeared on a wall in Bologna, few meters away from the American university where Bilal is studying. “Erdogan killer”, “Free Kurdistan”, “W Pkk” were among the slogans written in black paint. The Italian police is currently investigate on the authors of the writings. While at the entrance of the Johns Hopkins university, Bilal’s bodyguards are monitoring the situation.

EXPERT OPINION

Joshua Tartakovsky

The story of Erdogan’s son’s money laundering came out only yesterday in the mainstream media while Alessandra Benignetti, with impressive courage, wrote about it over a month ago. 

Bravo, Alessandra!

Read more

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