The Turkish government has “no worries” regarding the ongoing investigation in the US against a controversial Iranian-born Turkish businessman Reza Zarrab, Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ has said.
“We aren’t doing conducting any specific monitoring [of the case] and we have no worries,” he told reporters on March 31, referring to the arrest in Florida of Zarrab, who was acquitted from a far reaching graft probe in Turkey in 2014 after 70 days in jail.
Zarrab, 33, was arrested in Miami, on March 21, on charges of “engaging in hundreds of millions of dollars-worth of transactions on behalf of the government of Iran and other Iranian entities, which were barred by US sanctions.”
“Up until now, Turkey has conducted all of its affairs, including relations with Iran, in line with the constitution and law,” Bozdağ said. “It will continue to do the right thing within the framework of the constitution and international law in a way that will benefit this nation. We’ll see what happens together.”
Bozdağ also claimed that “the parallel structure” has been “fueling” reports on Zarrab, while stating that opponents of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had “almost declared a holiday” because they assume the government will be harmed by the case.
“Some dissident circles in newspapers, on TV stations, have been all smiles. They have almost declared a holiday because they think the government, the Turkish nation, and the president would be harmed,” he added.
Zarrab, who was accused of being the ringleader of a shady money-laundering and gold-smuggling circle in Turkey that was established to dodge sanctions against Iran, was among 21 people — including the sons of three then-ministers, a district mayor and other high-profile figures — who were arrested as part of the corruption and bribery operation that went public on Dec. 17, 2013.
A criminal organization allegedly headed by Zarrab is claimed to have distributed TL 137 million ($66 million) in bribes to the former economy and interior ministers, their sons and possibly to some other bureaucrats to cloak fictitious exports and money laundering.
In documents sent by the İstanbul Prosecutor’s Office to Parliament, former ministers Zafer Çağlayan, Muammer Güler and Egemen Bağış are alleged to have accepted bribes. The ministers allegedly flew on Zarrab’s private jet several times. İstanbul prosecutors dropped the charges against the suspects in October of 2014.
A large sum of money and two kilograms of gold seized by the police as part of the same corruption investigation were returned to Zarrab’s employee Abdullah Happani in December of last year.