Iranian-Azeri suspect of graft probe buys watches worth 1 million euros: Seller
Bülent Sarıoğlu - ANKARAWatch-seller Yusuf Tutuş, the apparent dealer of the expensive watch allegedly given to former Economy Minister Zafer Çağlayan by Iranian-Azeri businessman Reza Zarrab, has said Zarrab was a loyal and reliable customer, in his testimony before the parliamentary commission investigating the graft allegations.
“I know Reza Zarrab. He is one of my good customers. He buys a lot of watches from me, around 20 to 30 watches. He gives them as gifts, as far as I know he likes giving presents. The watches he buys usually vary between 20,000 and 50,000 Turkish Liras. We have a watch trade of more than 1 million euros with Reza Zarrab. He pays my money without any delays,” Tutuş said in his testimony.
Çağlayan is accused of accepting a bribe from Zarrab of a customized watch worth 700,000 liras (around $300,000). Çağlayan said in a special parliamentary session that he had paid for the entire sum himself even though the bill was not in his name.
“Zarrab bought the watch, but I paid for it. The guarantee certificate is in my name,” Çağlayan told deputies during a critical session on graft allegations on May 5, while showing a document he referred to as the watch’s bill.
Tutuş said Zarrab had brought up the order of a watch from Switzerland about a year ago and asked Tutuş if he could help him buy the watch through an acquaintance there. Tutuş said he had an acquaintance in Germany, but the man did not buy the watch as he could have faced legal problems due to his total income not being large enough to afford the luxurious watch.
“Upon this, we pulled [the acquaintance in Germany] back and my connection with the watch stopped there. [Zarrab] then sent someone and had it bought,” said Tutuş.