Ministers' sons, state bank chief charged in Turkish graft investigation

Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a news conference in Ankara, Turkey, on Wednesday, Dec 18, 2013. Sixteen people, including the sons of two ministers, were charged on Saturday, Dec 21, 2013, in connection with a Turkish corr
Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during a news conference in Ankara, Turkey, on Wednesday, Dec 18, 2013. Sixteen people, including the sons of two ministers, were charged on Saturday, Dec 21, 2013, in connection with a Turkish corruption investigation that Prime Minister Erdogan has called a "dirty operation" aimed at undermining his rule, media said. -- FILE PHOTO: AP

ANKARA (REUTERS) - Sixteen people, including the sons of two ministers, were charged on Saturday in connection with a Turkish corruption investigation that Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has called a "dirty operation" aimed at undermining his rule, media said.

Mr Suleyman Aslan, the general manager of state-owned Halkbank, was also formally arrested and charged alongside Baris Guler, the son of the interior minister, and Kaan Caglayan, the son of the economy minister, CNN Turk and others reported.

The operation, unprecedented in scope, began last week with the detention of scores of people seen as close to the government. It has struck at the heart of Turkey's ruling elite and roiled financial markets.

A total of 24 people are now in detention, awaiting trial on corruption allegations.

A court on Saturday ordered the release of 33 others, including the mayor of Istanbul's Fatih district, Mustafa Demir, and the son of Turkey's environment minister, the media reported.

Dozens of police chiefs have been removed from their posts, accused of abuse of office for keeping the investigation quiet from higher level officials in security institutions.