Anti-corruption officers arrested 41 suspects in cities across Turkey on Tuesday in an investigation into export fraud, police said. Six customs officers and Treasury officials were among those arrested in simultaneous raids in Istanbul, İzmir, Antalya and Muğla. Police also seized three guns, ammunition and more than 1,000 corporate seals that belong to different companies.
The chief public prosecutor's office in Istanbul's Bakırköy district issued arrest warrants Monday against 58 people suspected of being involved in the gang. The syndicate, which is allegedly led by four men, is said to have issued trade documents detailing textile exports worth TL 800 million ($272 million). In reality, the goods were sold on domestic markets, evading tax, prosecutors claimed. The fraud allegedly cost Turkey TL 110 million in lost revenue.
Export fraud, known as "hayali ihracat" or fictitious export, has made a comeback in recent years due to export incentives. Using fake documents to show goods imported to Turkey have been exported to a third country, fraudsters claim sales tax refunds from the government and sell the goods cheaply in Turkey.