Probe launched into modification of historic mansions made by graft scandal figure

A local planning authority has opened an investigation into the modification of two historic waterfront mansions by their owner Reza Zarrab, a businessman incriminated in the Dec. 17, 2013 corruption investigation, in violation of the law that prohibits making any changes to buildings with historic monument status, a daily reported on Tuesday.
According to Handurriyetand’s report, the minister of culture and tourism has ordered for the Bosporus Planning Authority to investigate whether Zarrab illegally added an extra floor to a historic waterfront mansion and is currently making modifications to another mansion. Bosporus Law No. 2960 prohibits doing alterations to historic buildings around the Bosporus Strait.
The ministerand’s move came after the SandOzcandu daily published a story on Monday featuring before and after photos of the properties which revealed the changes and modifications made to the buildings.
The Bosporus Planning Authority will assess whether the modifications to the mansions constitute a violation of the law. If Zarrab is found guilty, he might face a prison sentence ranging from two months to one year along with fines between TL 200,000-TL 500,000 if the planning authority determines a violation of the law.
Zarrab had purchased the two luxurious waterfront mansions by the Bosporus Strait in Istanbuland’s Kanlica neighborhood for $40 million in 2011. Apart from the extra floor added to one of two historic mansions, Zarrab also constructed a passageway between the two buildings, added a common elevator and installed an automated dock.
Zarrab, who was accused of being the ringleader of a shady money laundering and gold smuggling ring in Turkey established to dodge sanctions against Iran, was among 21 people — including the sons of three former ministers, a district mayor and other high profile figures — who were arrested as part of the corruption and bribery operation that went public on Dec. 17 after a series of simultaneous police raids.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman