TODAY’S – CHP deputy opens Zarrab file

CHP deputy opens Zarrab fileMain opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Deputy Chairman Umut Oran has said he will pursue justice regarding shady gold exchanges conducted by Iranian businessman Reza Zarrab despite the fact that an investigation into it was halted when the Istanbul Governor’s Office refused on Thursday to grant permission to prosecute 18 customs officials over possible misconduct regarding a cargo plane carrying a large amount of gold imported from GhanaHe submitted a parliamentary question to Customs and Trade Minister Hayati YazIcI. Previously, in a written statement after news reports stated that the prosecutor had declared the investigation inconclusive, Oran had said he would open the case, follow up on it closely and keep the public updated with new information.

Oran said the gold in the cargo belonged to Zarrab and that it was indeed being carried to Iran, as was revealed in legally wiretapped telephone conversations that came out of a corruption probe that went public on Dec. 17.

He said the route of the plane had to be altered after a customs official grew suspicious of the trade documents and decided to inspect the cargo. The official found the aircraft loaded with gold, not mineral samples as had been stated on the cargo bill.

At that point, the plane and everything inside it was sealed, and it was held at Istanbul Ataturk Airport for 18 days.Oran said YazIcI had ordered an investigation one month after the incident, and claimed he had tried to sway the inspectors by saying the plane was “carrying transit goods, heading to Dubai and had landed in Istanbul just so it could be refueled.

” In his question, Oran asked YazIcI why he had said those things, which may have manipulated the inspector He also inquired as to why he had waited one month to order an investigation into the gold trade and the sealing of the plane. “How did you know that the cargo was in transit, being carried to Dubai and that it had stopped in Turkey to be refueled?” the CHP deputy asked.

Oran noted that the distance between Ghana’s capital Accra and Istanbul is 7,354 kilometers, while the distance between Istanbul and Dubai is 2,992 kilometers. He asserted that as the distance between Accra and Dubai is 6,293 kilometers, it would have been irrational for the plane to stop in Istanbul to refuel, since Istanbul is 4,053 kilometers further from Accra than Dubai.

“Between 2002 and 2013, how many planes landed at Istanbul Ataturk Airport to refuel and followed customs procedures?” asked Oran.Oran said the failure to grant permission to interrogate the customs official and the fact that the file was closed inconclusively breaches many laws and legal principles, and that he will disclose documents to prove wrongdoings in the coming days.

The deputy also drew attention to the fact that page 19 of the investigation report dated March 18, 2013 stated, “Gold was smuggled in defiance of Ghana’s regulations [on trading gold].” Oran wanted YazIcI to answer the question, “Isn’t it suspicious to try to bring 15 tons of gold into Turkey with fake documents, given Turkish regulations on smuggling?.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman