Nov 27 2017

Opposition questions Turkey’s gold imports

The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) asked the government to explain a surge in gold imports this year, particularly from the United Arab Emirates.

Opposition MP Faik Öztrak, in charge of the party’s economy team, requested that Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Şimşek answer a series of questions to parliament. Imports had risen to 335 tonnes in the first nine months from 97 tonnes a year earlier, while exports of gold fell, he said.

The central bank’s gold reserves have increased 60 percent to $22.5 billion, Öztrak said. He also questioned whether some countries were paying Turkey in gold for some goods and services, referring to previous periods when Turkey had paid for natural gas with gold.

Suspicious trade in gold with Iran had led to a corruption investigation against top Turkish officials in 2013 that was later quashed by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The trade also forms evidence in a trial of Mehmet Hakan Atillia, a deputy chief executive of state-run Halkbank, due to start in New York next week.

Ayhan Güner, head of Turkey’s Jewellery Exporters' Association, said new taxes levied by Dubai meant about 150 firms in the sector had come to Turkey, according to comments reported by Karar newspaper. He said Turkey could soon register a surge in exports of finished gold as he expected reserves of 40-50 tonnes in Iraq to be processed in the country, according to Karar.