The Iranian-Turkish gold trader Reza Zarrab has named the President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the former Economy Minister Ali Babacan as his accomplices in violating the embargo on Iran.
Zarrab is a witness in a trial in New York that centers around Mehmet Hakan Atilla, deputy manager of the state-owned company Halkbank. Zarrab testified that the Turkish President and the Economy Minister personally instructed banks state-owned or friendly to the AKP administration to engage in the scheme to circumvent the Iranian embargo.
Ankara has called Zarrab a “false witness.” Zarrab is testifying as part of a plea-bargain agreement in a trial that the Turkish government views as “a theatre,” according to Turkey’s deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag.
Zarrab is describing the network of Iranian gold exports naming members of the Turkish government engaged and sums paid in bribes. The case also involves the former Turkish economy minister, Zafer Caglayan, and the former European affairs minister Egemen Bagis.
The risk for Turkey is for its banks to be excluded from the international financial system as guilty of money laundering.
The AKP government claims that all these accusations have been staged by a former member of parliament for the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), Aykan Erdemir. The government claims that Erdemir has spread false documents in cooperation with the so-called Fethullah Gulen Terror Organization (FETO). President Erdogan is now accusing the leader of the opposition, Mr. Kilicdaroglu, of treason.