Republican People’s Party (CHP) Istanbul Deputy Umut Oran has submitted another parliamentary question regarding the shady gold transfer from Ghana to Dubai via Istanbul.
In addition to submitting the parliamentary question, which is the third in three days, Oran questioned the shortcomings in investigating the seizure of the cargo plane carrying gold belonging to Iranian businessman Babak Zanjani.
Oran claimed that although inspectors had detected serious illegalities and forgery regarding the cargo, they could not include them in their reports due to pressure from Customs and Trade Minister Hayati Yazıcı. “Why did you instruct the inspectors to conclude their investigations in one month?” he asked in his parliamentary question.
A cargo plane carrying one-and-half tons of gold to Iran as part of a deal pertaining to Zanjani was grounded in early June in 2013 by the Turkish Customs Directorate because of the cargo’s poor documentation. The plane was allowed to leave Turkey with its cargo after the necessary measures were completed later in 2013, leaving important questions about the gold transaction and Turkey’s role in the process unanswered. The issue was brought back to Turkey’s agenda after Dec. 17, 2013, when the judiciary launched a massive corruption and graft operation engulfing Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his four ministers’ relations with an Iranian-origin businessman, Reza Zarrab. Zarrab is believed to have strong trade relations with Zanjani and reportedly eased the transfer of billions of dollars-worth of gold to Iran via Turkey.
Closely following the issue, Oran has submitted several parliamentary questions in recent months, but has intensified his role on the issue in the last three days and has submitted three separate motions in that time in a bid to raise controversy over the issue. In previous motions, he questioned the actual amount of gold and claimed 292 kilograms of gold were missing, while questioning the probable role of the Foreign Ministry in allowing the plane to leave Turkey.
Oran recalled that Yazıcı charged Customs Inspector Mehmet Eryılmaz to investigate the case on Feb. 15, 2013, nearly a month after the cargo plane left Turkey. Eryılmaz’s report discovered that the cargo plane’s documents were fraudulent and the plane left Ghana through illegal ways, Oran stressed, adding the report also recognized that the gold belonged Zanjani.
Oran asked why Yazıcı did not file a criminal complaint to the office of the prosecutor, as presenting fake documents constitutes a crime of forgery, yet instead preferred to issue a cash fine in line with Customs Law. “Was this illegal and unlawful move carried out upon your instructions?” Oran asked Yazıcı.
The CHP deputy underlined that Yazıcı instructed the opening of an another investigation on the controversial cargo transfer in March 2014, one year after the primary investigation, and asked whether the reason for renewing the probe is due to the insufficiency of the first probe that was prepared upon his instructions.
Oran is expected to hold a press conference today to give more information about the issue.