CHP calls for customs minister to resign over shady gold trade
“I say ‘resign Hayati’ for clean politics,” CHP Istanbul deputy Umut Oran said at a press conference on July 10. DHA photoThe main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) has demanded the resignation of Customs and Trade Minister Hayati Yazıcı over shady gold transfers from Ghana to Dubai via Turkey, on the grounds that he failed to open an efficient probe into a mysterious cargo plane carrying 1.5 tons of gold.
“I say ‘resign Hayati’ for clean politics,” CHP Istanbul deputy Umut Oran said at a press conference on July 10. The gold transfers to Ghana allegedly involve Reza Zarrab, a controversial Iranian businessman targeted in the Dec. 17 corruption probe.
Oran submitted a parliamentary question regarding the issue, in which he questioned ministries’ role for the release of the Dubai-bound plane that was seized by the Customs Directorate due to fake documentation of its cargo. Documents claimed that the cargo plane was carrying natural stone but the Customs Directorate discovered that it was transporting gold belonging to Iranian businessman Babek Zencani.
Oran recalled that the court had closed the file regarding the plane, but stressed that they would continue to keep it on the agenda to reveal how “this chain of corruption” was perpetrated.
The plane from Ghana landed at Istanbul’s Atatürk Airport on Jan. 1, 2013, before being seized by customs, he said, stressing that Zencani’s business partner in Turkey, Zarrab, began intense communication with ministers and other officials to allow the plane to take off from Istanbul. The plane subsequently took off on Jan. 15, but Minister Yazıcı ordered a probe to be launched into the issue on Feb. 17, a month after the plane left Turkey.
“It seems a quarter of the Cabinet ministers were mobilized for Zarrab’s gold. When we look into all these irregular relations, we come to the conclusion that his bureaucrats could not take even a step without the consent of Mr. Hayati. If this gold-filled plane was able to take off, it’s thanks to Mr. Hayati and the pilot,” Oran said.