An İstanbul court on Wednesday ruled to seize the assets of former main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy Aykan Erdemir after an arrest warrant was issued for him on allegations that he had provided “fake reports” as evidence against Turkish-Iranian gold trader Reza Zarrab in an ongoing legal case in New York.
According to the Habertük daily, the İstanbul 6th Penal Court of Peace ordered the seizure of all of Erdemir’s assets, including bank accounts, companies and movable and immovable property.
The İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office on Nov. 28 issued an arrest warrant for Erdemir, stating that he was being investigated over whether he “destroyed paperwork relating to state security.”
The prosecutor’s office claimed that Erdemir submitted “so-called files” dated Jan. 28, 2014 from an investigation in Turkey to the New York County District Attorney’s Office as evidence.
According to the Hürriyet daily, the prosecutor’s office also included a photo taken on Dec. 4, 2013 during a meeting of CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, Erdemir and accompanying CHP deputies with representatives of the Turkic American Assembly (TAA), linked to the movement of US-based Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen, who is accused by the Turkish government of being behind a failed coup last year.
The file noted that the meeting in the United States, 13 days before the revelation of a December 2013 corruption probe targeting senior government officials, was “not accidental.”
CHP lawmakers Sezgin Tanrıkulu, Faruk Loğoğlu, Engin Altay and Faik Öztırak are also seen in the photograph.
Rumi Forum President Emre Çelik, Turkish American Association Council head Mahmut Yeter, Furkan Koşar and Kemal Öksüz, the brother of Adil Öksüz, one of the alleged leaders of Turkey’s July 2016 coup attempt, are also in the photograph with the CHP members.
Commenting on the charges on his Twitter account, Erdemir stated on Dec. 6 that the charges are “false” and “political in nature.”
“Needless to say, the Turkish charges against me are false and defamatory and are entirely political in nature. The Turkish government has a regrettable history of harassing and intimidating critics and experts. This ludicrous accusation is just the latest example,” he said.
Zarrab is cooperating with US authorities against Turkish state-owned Halkbank executive Mehmet Hakan Atilla, who is standing trial in a New York federal court for violating US sanctions on Iran.
Zarrab and eight other people, including Turkey’s former economy minister and three Halkbank executives, have been charged with engaging in transactions worth hundreds of millions of dollars for Iran’s government and Iranian entities from 2010 to 2015 in a scheme to evade US sanctions.
Zarrab was the prime suspect in a major corruption investigation in Turkey that became public in December 2013 and implicated the inner circle of the ruling AKP government and then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Zarrab was alleged to have paid Cabinet-level officials and bank officers bribes to facilitate transactions benefiting Iran.
On Tuesday Turkish authorities detained 17 people who allegedly sent documents to the US, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.
According to the report police sources said three of the suspects had been previously detained, and the remainder were taken into custody on Tuesday as part of an investigation launched into Zarrab by the İstanbul Public Prosecutor’s Office.
Three suspects — identified as Sinem A., Regaip A. and Mustafa H. — were working with Zarrab and allegedly sent documents to the US concerning the legal proceedings in which he is testifying as a key witness there, noted the report.
The property of Zarrab and his family members was seized on Thursday as part of an investigation into espionage and providing confidential official information to a foreign government, launched by the Istanbul Public Prosecutor’s Office. According to a media report, the decision was taken as a measure to prevent Zarrab from smuggling his property outside Turkey.