Turkish crime ring helped Iran evade sanctions


In this city's Grand Bazaar, sellers along labyrinthine passageways hawk carpets, jewelry and souvenir knick-knacks to tourists.

Turkish police believe that until recently, the area around the market also sat at the center of an audacious, multi-billion-dollar scheme involving bribery and suspect food shipments to Iran.

To date, no one has been charged. But a recently leaked police report - which contains allegations of payments to top Turkish government officials including cash stuffed into shoeboxes - has added fuel to a growing corruption scandal that has shaken the highest levels of Turkey's political establishment.

A review by Reuters of the report's 299 pages, as well as interviews with currency and precious metals dealers, offer colorful new details of how what police call a "crime organization" allegedly helped Iran exploit a loophole in the West's sanctions regime that for a time allowed the Islamic Republic to purchase gold with oil and gas revenues.

While the gold trade was then legal, the police report alleges the purported crime network bribed officials in part so it could maintain control of the lucrative business.

Then, when the West last July prohibited the gold trade as a sanctions violation, the police report alleges the network concocted records of shipments of food at preposterous volumes and prices to continue giving Iran access to foreign currency.

The police report - which includes transcripts of wiretapped conversations and surveillance photographs - was prepared for prosecutors. Reuters confirmed its authenticity with Ekrem Aydiner, the current chief prosecutor in charge of the case.

Turkey's Prime Minister, Tayyip Erdogan, has called the police investigation a foreign-orchestrated plot without legal merit. In recent months, Turkey's judiciary removed several prosecutors from the case. That has raised questions about whether Turkish law enforcement authorities will continue to pursue it. Aydiner said the matter remains under active investigation.
There is much more.

This appears to show corruption at the highest levels of the Turkish government.  I don't think the current Turk government intends to see that justice is done.


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