Nov 22 2017

Zarrab trial could reignite Turkish government corruption accusations – ex-U.S. official

If more evidence emerges during the trial of an Iranian-Turkish gold dealer accused of undermining sanctions against Iran, it could breathe new life into suppressed allegations of Turkish government corruption, wrote the former U.S. State Department Deputy Assistant Secretary for Southern Europe and Eastern Mediterranean Affairs.

“(President Recep Tayyip) Erdoğan made charges disappear in Turkey, but he cannot do so in the United States,” Amanda Sloat said.

If the case against billionaire gold trader Reza Zarrab case came to include allegations of high-level corruption in Turkey, it could do great damage to Erdoğan’s reputation – and those of family members including his son-in-law, Energy Minister Berat Albayrak, and his son Bilal, she said.

“A trial would shine a bright light on alleged corruption in the Turkish government and could undermine Erdoğan’s narrative about rule of law in Turkey.”

Sloat, who for years directly handled the Turkey affairs in different capacities in a senior position at the State Department, also said prosecutors claimed to have evidence of personal connections between the Erdoğan family and Zarrab, including “taped conversations of Zarrab seeking Erdoğan’s support for his scheme and evidence of donations by Zarrab to charitable foundations associated with Erdoğan family members”.

A further danger, Sloat said, would come if Zarrab provided damaging information about the Turkish banks he had used in his scheme.

“Such revelations would undermine the international reputation of the Turkish banking system,” she said.