US trial of gold trader Reza Zarrab sparks concern, anger in Turkey
States against a leading gold trader and a top Turkish banking executive
has sparked anger and anxiety in Ankara, with both US-Turkey ties and
the economy at risk of damage. Turkish officials have condemned as a “plot” the charges against Turkish-Iranian gold mogul Reza Zarrab and Mehmet Hakan Atilla, the deputy chief executive of Turkish lender Halkbank, of violating US sanctions against Iran.
media reports have suggested in recent days that Zarrab may be seeking a
plea bargain in the case and shown willingness to testify against
was one of the main figures of a 2013 corruption scandal in Turkey that
Erdogan also sees as a bid by Gulen to bring him down.
up in the scandal too were four ministers accused of accepting bribes
from Zarrab, 34, to facilitate sanctions-busting trade and other deals.
who has dismissed the claims as a fabrication, has raised Zarrab’s case
“multiple times” at the highest level under former president Barack Obama and his successor Donald Trump, former US State Department official Amanda Sloat said.
he (Erdogan) is not charged with any crime, corruption revelations
would be embarrassing to him, his family and his inner circle,” Sloat, now a senior fellow at the US-based Brookings Institution, told AFP.
‘Defendants held like hostages’
analysts warned that the sheer intensity of Turkey’s reaction risked
further damaging already brittle relations with the US, a key NATO ally.
reaction to the trial — especially accusations it is an American
conspiracy to bring down the government – could be toxic to Washington’s
perception of Ankara,” Sloat said.
Department spokeswoman, dismissed the accusations that the case was an
American conspiracy, saying Washington had heard “that old same song and
dance from Turkey before”.
Negative impact on economy
Turkish lira has hit record lows against the US dollar in the last
days, partly due to the uncertainty generated by the case.
emerging markets economist at Capital Economics in London, said that if
fines were issued, there could be an effect on credit conditions and
were one bank to be fined, other banks might tighten lending conditions
out of concerns that they could face fines too. That, in turn, is
likely to cause GDP growth to slow,” he told AFP.
Why did Zarrab go to US?
did Zarrab, after facing legal troubles over accusations of busting
sanctions on Iran, choose, of all places, the United States for a family
Zarrab case has the potential to trigger a severe crisis between Ankara
and Washington which could accelerate the erosion of bilateral
relations,” said Anthony Skinner of Verisk Maplecroft, a risk consultancy.
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