Key graft scandal figure’s firm ranks 13th in top exporters index

A company owned by Iranian businessman Reza Zarrab, a key figure in a high-profile corruption scandal that became public in 2013, ranked 13th among Turkish export firms in 2014, according to a report by the Habertandurk daily on Wednesday.
The Turkish Exporters Assembly (TiM) on Monday released a list of the countryand’s top 1,000 export companies in 2014. Zarraband’s firm Volgam Gida, with exports worth around $847 million, came in 13th on the list. According to Habertandurk, Volgam Gidaand’s export activities in 2014 consisted only of jewelry. The company had not made it into the top 1,000 list the previous year. 2014 was also marked by Turkeyand’s skyrocketing jewelry exports to Iran.
Turkeyand’s jewelry exports to Iran saw a rise of 5.123 percent in 2014 compared with the previous year, surpassing $900 million in total exports. Turkeyand’s total jewelry exports reached $3 billion in 2014, with Volgam Gida responsible for approximately 30 percent of the total, the Habertandurk report stated.
Zarrab was the prime suspect in a corruption and bribery scandal involving the government that went public on Dec. 17, 2013. He was accused of being the ringleader of a money-laundering and gold-smuggling ring in Turkey which circumnavigated sanctions against Iran. The businessman was among 21 people — including the sons of three then-ministers, a district mayor and other high-profile figures — who were arrested in simultaneous police raids that took place on Dec. 17.
A criminal organization allegedly headed by Zarrab, who lives in Turkey, was claimed to have distributed a total of TL 137 million ($66 million) in bribes to the former economy and interior ministers, their sons and other bureaucrats, in order to cloak fictitious exports and money laundering. In documents sent by the Istanbul Prosecutorand’s Office to Parliament, former Ministers Zafer andcailayan, Muammer Ganduler and Egemen Baiii were accused of accepting bribes. The ministers allegedly flew on Zarraband’s private jet several times. The ministers implicated in the graft claims resigned shortly after the scandal.
Istanbul prosecutors dropped the charges against the suspects in October 2014. In January, the parliamentary commission established to look into claims of corruption against the four former Cabinet ministers voted against referring them to a top court for trial amidst allegations of the government placing heavy pressure on members of the commission from the ruling party.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman