CHP leader: Why not erect statues of Zarrab in front of ministries?

Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal has sarcastically advised that statues of a key graft suspect, Iranian businessman Reza Zarrab, who said during a Sunday interview that he closed out 15 percent of the national current account deficit, be erected in front of the Interior Ministry, the Finance Ministry and the Prime Ministry.

Speaking during his party’s regular parliamentary group meeting on Tuesday, Kilicdaroglu harshly criticized Zarrab’s controversial remarks regarding Turkey’s current account deficit, saying that Turkey has now seen that bribery is now known as “closing the current account deficit.” Zarrab is a key suspect in a recent major graft probe that became public with police raids on Dec. 17 of last year.

Zarrab, who was detained in the December corruption probe operation and later released pending trial, said during the Sunday broadcast that his gold trade with Iran helped bring down Turkey’s current account deficit. Zarrab claimed that he contributed some $10 billion and closed out 15 percent of the $65 billion current account deficit last year.

Pointing out that there was a Turkish flag behind Zarrab during the interview with the A Haber TV channel that is a member of the government “pool media,” Kilicdaroglu also said: “You cannot justify fraud by putting a Turkish flag behind him. We will ask for an explanation of this incident from the pool media.” Stating that since the graft suspect Zarrab has been declared a hero by the government, Kilicdaroglu then sarcastically advised the Interior Ministry, the Finance Ministry and the Prime Ministry to erect a statue of Zarrab.

In addition to noting that the headlines of government dailies and broadcasts by government TV stations portray Zarrab as a hero and a benefactor businessman who closed out Turkey’s current account deficit, Kilicdaroglu recalled that there is now a figure with a wrist watch on a clock tower at a traffic intersection near Parliament in a reference to a wrist watch that was allegedly given to former Finance Minister Zafer Caglayan as a bribe by Zarrab. He said: “The statue of Zafer Caglayan was erected at the Parliament intersection. There should be also a statue of Zarrab next to it. No, one statue is not enough. A second statue of Zarrab should be erected in front of the Interior Ministry. Maybe there should also be a statue of an interior minister lying down in front of the Zarrab’s statue [referring to a wiretapped conversation in which former Interior Minister Muammer Guler allegedly said he would lie down in front of Zarrab to shield him]. The third statue should be in front of the Prime Ministry. Zarrab could be depicted as visiting the prime minister with a chocolate box.”

Kilicdaroglu also said that he believes Zarrab didn’t close out Turkey’s current account deficit, but rather the current account deficits of Cabinet ministers.

Zarrab was detained in December of 2013 as part of the investigation of corruption and bribery claims. Zarrab stands accused of involvement in export fraud using falsified documents. He has also been accused of securing Turkish citizenship for several foreigners by bribing the sons of Turkish ministers.