Dec 12 2017

Prime Minister: Turkish Intelligence warned Erdoğan about Zarrab

Turkey’s Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım told parliament that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was informed by Turkish intelligence agents of crimes committed by Iranian-Turkish gold dealer Reza Zarrab, the star witness in a New York sanctions trial, but no action was taken as the information was not presented in an official report, opposition newspaper Sözcü said.

Erdoğan, prime minister at the time, recieved the information in a briefing by agents from the National Intelligence Organisation (MİT) in October 2014, eight months after Zarrab had been released from a Turkish jail after being arrested on corruption charges connected with his oil-for-gold scheme to bypass international sanctions on Iran. Zarrab told the U.S. court last week he had resumed his illegal activities after receiving the green light from officials close to Erdoğan.

“As a result of research carried on our records, there was no report presented to the Prime Ministry that Reza Zarrab committed a crime,” Yıldırım said during budget talks at parliament on Monday. “When this case goes on to the court, he (Erdoğan) officially asks and MİT said there was no such thing. A briefing can be given to anyone, the most important thing is the report. Can we take action based only on a briefing?”

Yıldırım also said there was no need for a retrial of the Zarrab case in Turkey. “Will we rely on the words of a humbug, or the decision of the supreme assembly?” he said. “We cannot take action on the words of a liar. There is nothing new on this case, so there is no need to carry out a new investigation.”

Yıldırım also denied there were any illicit financial transactions between the Isle of Man tax haven, as claimed by the leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu. “There was no money sent there and no money came here,” he said. Money was just remitted between two Turkish banks, he said. “The government didn’t lose anything here.”

Kılıçdaroğlu said on Nov. 28 people close to Erdoğan, including his brother, his son and his executive assistant, made transactions worth around $15 million to an off-shore company called Bellway Limited in the Isle of Man in December 2011 and January 2012.