Zarrab asset seizure reveals extent of his Turkish holdings

Turkish prosecutors are investigating Iranian-born gold trader Reza Zarrab for espionage after he implicated several top Turkish government officials in a U.S. trial in which he has turned state’s witness and pleaded guilty to running a scheme to bypass sanctions on Iran, Star newspaper said.

Turkey has said the trial is politically motivated and an attempt to undermine its political stability and economy.

Istanbul Deputy Chief Prosecutor Hasan Yılmaz issued an order late on Friday to seize Zarrab’s assets due to the start of an investigation into the 34-year-old millionaire for “political and military espionage” by “providing documents that must be kept secret to a foreign state” and damaging “the security, domestic and foreign political interests of the state of the Turkish republic”.

The order to seize the assets of Zarrab, who also has Turkish citizenship, revealed the scale of his wealth in Turkey. His assets include 300 million lira ($77 million) of property and seven companies with a total value of $40.2 million in capital, Star said.

Zarrab’s real estate empire includes two Bosporus villas and an Istanbul mansion, 47 ordinary and four luxury apartments, a summer home, two office floors and a factory. Also seized in Turkey were his art collection and his Challenger 300 business jet.

The court also ordered the property of 22 of Zarrab’s relatives to be seized – although not that of his wife, pop star Ebru Gündeş.

A lawyer for the Zarrab family said they had not heard of Gündeş applying for divorce.

“We do not know why Gündeş’s name is not on the list but their daughter Alara’s name is,” Şebnem Eriş said.