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Politics, religion, and culture where East meets West

The Turkish corruption scandal in context

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On Oct. 23rd, 2012, I posted (“Turks subvert Iran sanctions”) an excerpt from a Reuters exclusive report on the gold trade between Turkey and Iran, through Dubai.

On Feb. 15th, 2013, Reuters published another exclusive, revealing Halkbank’s role in the movement of the aforementioned gold, and explaining the “gold-for-gas” trade. The pressure on Halkbank had already begun.

On Oct. 4th, 2013, The New York Times ran a feature on Iranian business tycoon Babak Zanjani titled “To This Tycoon, Iran Sanctions Were Like Gold.” Now Zanjani was under pressure for his role in subverting U.S. sanctions on Iranian energy.

In early November, 2013, the U.S.-Iran détente picked up speed and bargaining began.

On Dec. 17th, 2013, the Turkish “graft probe” began and Halkbank CEO Süleyman Aslan was implicated.

On Dec. 21st, Aslan and Reza Zarrab, an Iranian-Azeri businessman accused of moving much of the gold, were arrested.

A week ago, Babak Zanjani was arrested “on alleged corruption charges.” His transgressions were, of course, simply the Iranian equivalent of the Halkbank scandal. The charges themselves are obviously contrived.

Apparently, one of the topics of debate in the ongoing “nuclear talks” between the U.S. and Iran is how to make the message perfectly clear: Gold is not a currency, and trading in gold is subversive. Those who do so will be punished. This has, after all, been a theme of the past two years in U.S.-Iran relations, so it should come as no surprise. Nor should it come as a surprise if Iranian energy exports, in one way or another, end up denominated in dollars in the near future.

Happy New Year.

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Written by M. James

January 6, 2014 at 5:48 pm

Posted in News, Politics, Turkey

Tagged with , ,

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