The stakes were high for Erdoğan. In 2013, Turkish police officers launched an investigation into the same alleged crimes and accused 60 individuals of corruption, money laundering, illegal gold exportation, including Halkbank CEO Sulyeman Aslan and Iranian-Turkish Businessman Reza Zarrab. Erdoğan reacted defensively: he blamed his political rival (Fetullah Gülen) and the United States Ambassador for the investigation, launched a campaign to discredit the investigation, and eventually removed 350 police officers. The Turkish prosecutor’s office dropped the charges.
Three years later, in 2016, the Southern District of New York U.S. Attorney’s Office filed a criminal indictment charging three prominent business people related to Halkbank for conduct involved in the same scheme. That’s where our timeline begins.