Steps to be taken in case of Turkish businessman Zarrab: Erdoğan
REUTERS photoPresident Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has commented on the cases into Iranian-born Turkish businessman Reza Zarrab and the deputy general manager of Halkbank, Mehmet Hakan Atilla, saying steps will be taken regarding the issue.
Both Zarrab and Atilla are under arrest in the United States and charged with participating in a multi-year scheme to violate U.S. sanctions against Iran.
“In my visit to the United States in May, I and President [Donald] Trump will evaluate the issues of Syria, Iraq, the struggle against terrorism and bilateral relations. One of the steps that we are going to take will be on Reza Zarrab,” Erdoğan told Reuters in an interview on April 25.
“I’m looking at him as a citizen and not as a relative. If there is a crime, then his file can be conveyed to the Justice Ministry. Otherwise, if he is arrested after some things are made up, then we will be seen as a country that doesn’t protect its citizens,” he also said.
Atilla had previously gone to the U.S. seven times but he was only arrested on the last visit, Erdoğan said, noting that this indicated some sort of conspiracy.
“The fact that Atilla was subject to that treatment out of nowhere shows that there are some ill-intentioned attempts,” he added.
Erdoğan also said Turkey “feels and sees” some connection to the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization (FETÖ), widely believed to have been masterminded the July 15, 2016, failed coup.
“This game needs to be spoiled. There are lawyers who have been hired by Halkbank. There are those that want to get us involved as the state. We will have meetings with the president on that issue,” he also said.
Atilla, Zarrab and others are accused of conspiring to create and use false and fraudulent documents to disguise prohibited transactions for Iran and make those transactions falsely appear as transactions involving food, meaning they would be exempted from the sanctions as humanitarian aid.
Zarrab, 33, is widely known in Turkey as his name was involved in the Dec. 17-25, 2013, corruption probe that embroiled four former ministers and other state officials. The charges against him were later dropped.