Finance Minister denies paying in gold for fuel to Iran

Finance Minister denies paying in gold for fuel to Iran

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Turkey does not pay for natural gas from Iran in gold, Finance Minister Mehmet Şimşek said yesterday while answering questions from deputies during a budget talk at Parliament.

Turkey’s gold exports reached 10.7 billion Turkish Liras in the first nine months of the year, the minister said.

Until August, Iran imported large amounts of gold from Turkey before the United Arab Emirates took the majority in the following months, official figures show. However, it is widely speculated that gold exported to the U.A.E. continues on to Iran.

State-run Halkbank is responsible for the Iranian payment issue, Şimşek said, adding that gold exports to Iran are mainly from exchange offices and Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar, the traditional heart of the jewelry trade.

The Central Bank of Iran banned all gold exports without its explicit approval to avoid a shortage of the precious metal, The Associated Press reported.

A senior Central Bank official, Mohammad Reza Naderi, was quoted by semi-official Mehr news agency on Oct. 31 as saying that the new restriction was imposed due to currency fluctuations.

According to Iranian law, the export of coins made from precious metals previously did not require a permit from the Central Bank, but current economic conditions have resulted in a decision to require Central Bank licenses for the export of such goods, Lebanese Daily Star reported.

Iran’s currency, the rial, lost about 50 percent of its value earlier this month. The currency’s nosedive has been blamed on a combination of government mismanagement and the bite from tightened sanctions imposed regarding Iran’s nuclear program, which the West fears is aimed at producing a nuclear weapon.

Iran denies the charge, insisting its uranium enrichment program is only for peaceful purposes such as fuel generation.