ANKARA, Turkey, Dec. 25 (UPI) -- Two Turkish cabinet members resigned Wednesday in a corruption scandal that has challenged the government and polarized the country.
The two who stepped down -- Economy Minister Zafer Caglayan and Interior Minister Muammer Guler -- have sons among the 24 people arrested on bribery charges in an anti-corruption investigation that has engulfed the administration of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the New York Times reported Wednesday.
Erdogan's government has denounced the inquiry as a politically motivated plot against his government and his allies have characterized it as a foreign plot to damage the government prior to elections in March.
The investigation has been linked to followers of reclusive Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen, who lives in Pennsylvania and leads an influential and international Islamic movement, the Times said.
Gulen denies any involvement.
The investigation, which has been directed at sons of government ministers and Turkish businessmen, began with raids last week on the offices of businessmen close to the prime minister.
Turkish media reported $5 million in cash was found in shoe boxes at the home of the chief executive of a state-run bank and piles of bank notes and a money-counting machine were found in the bedroom of the son of a government minister, the Times said.
Opposition leader Kemal Kilicgaroglu of the Republican People's Party Wednesday called the resignations of the two cabinet ministers belated, saying: "They should have resigned a bit earlier," the Istanbul newspaper Today's Zaman reported.