Istanbul city metro company bought helicopter, corruption probe finds

Istanbul’s metro company, owned by the city municipality, bought a helicopter for $590,000 in 2012, when its administration was controlled by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), Sözcü reported on Sunday.

As part of a corruption investigation, municipal inspectors determined that the company, Metro Istanbul, owned the 1988 model "Sikorsky S-76B" helicopter until January 2019, when it sold the aircraft for 601,800 liras, Sözcü said.

Municipal inspectors were investigating why the company purchased the helicopter, who made the decision to buy it and whether the aircraft’s rental service was administered on-site. Interior Ministry officials scuttled the probe by confiscating the case files, Sözcü said.

The aircraft generated total revenue of 3.2 million liras from rentals, the newspaper said. However, maintenance and other costs came to 14.4 million liras.

Istanbul Mayor Ekrem İmamoğlu, who represents the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), ordered the probe. He won office in 2019, unseating an AKP official at nationwide local elections. The Istanbul poll was held twice after the election board granted a re-run requested by the AKP on grounds of alleged voting irregularities.