Turkish authorities are investigating the country's former ambassador to the European Union, following allegations he embezzled wine worth hundreds of thousands of euros.
Daryal Batibay (pictured) is suspected of using around €200,000 of public money to buy the wines, before attempting to smuggle them into Turkey.
Turkey’s Foreign Ministry confirmed to Decanter.com that it and other government agencies are investigating Batibay, who retired as the country’s permanent representative to the Council of Europe late last year.
Turkey’s public prosecutor is standing by to press criminal charges, depending on the probe’s outcome, an official with knowledge of the situation told Decanter.com.
Turkish customs authorities have seized wine believed to belong to Batibay, said the official. Most of the wine is thought to be French, including some Champagne.
After being alerted to missing funds, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan sent two officers from his Ethics Board to question staff at Batibay’s old headquarters.
The official added: ‘In one way it’s bad, because this is a corruption case. In another way it is good, because it shows that the government and the Prime Minister are willing to allow the agencies to investigate. This sends out a clear message to other officials.’
There is pressure on Turkey to show it is reducing high-level corruption, as it seeks to join the EU.
A Foreign Ministry spokesperson said: ‘When the inquiry and the investigation is fulfilled, there could be a legal outcome.’
Batibay was quoted in Turkey’s Sabah newspaper saying that he was unaware of the allegations.
Written by Chris Mercer