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FBI raids ex-THY official’s house in probe of NYC mayor’s alleged illegal donations from Turkey

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The FBI has searched the house of Cenk Öcal, a former executive of Turkish Airlines (THY), Turkey’s flag carrier, as part of an investigation into whether New York Mayor Eric Adams’s 2021 election campaign conspired with the Turkish government to receive illegal foreign donations, The New York Times reported on Friday.

The investigation came to public attention on Nov. 2 when US federal agents conducted an early-morning raid at the Brooklyn home of the mayor’s chief fundraiser, Brianna Suggs. Suggs is a campaign consultant who is deeply entwined with efforts to advance the mayor’s agenda.

The New York Times reported, citing several people with knowledge of the matter, that FBI agents on Friday searched the New Jersey house of Öcal, who served on the mayor’s transition team, in addition to Suggs and Rana Abbasova, an aide in Mr. Adams’s international affairs office, as part of the investigation.

The coordinated raids marked the initial public indication of an extensive corruption probe related to the mayor’s 2021 campaign.

As part of the investigation, the FBI and federal prosecutors in Manhattan are examining whether Adams compelled Fire Department officials to approve a high-rise built by the Turkish government in Manhattan despite safety concerns.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan inaugurated the 35-story “Türkevi” (Turkish House), which cost Turkey nearly $300 million, during a visit to New York City for the UN General Assembly in September 2021 amid criticism that the money could have been put to better use, especially when university students in Turkey were protesting the high cost of housing at the time.

Adams’s ties to the Turkish government and community stretch back years. As Brooklyn borough president, he actively wooed wealthy members of the Turkish community in south Brooklyn. The mayor states that he has recently visited Turkey at least six times.

One of those trips, taken in 2015, was paid for by the Turkish Consulate, according to financial disclosure forms, which list the purpose as being “to discuss a sister city agreement” with Turkish officials.

Most recently, Adams attended an event hosted by first lady Emine Erdoğan at Turkish House on Sept. 19. The ‘Path to the Global Zero Waste Movement’ event was also attended by spouses of heads of state and government participating in the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly.

Neither Adams nor his campaign has been accused of wrongdoing, and no charges are publicly known to have been filed in connection with the investigation.

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