Turkey has seized a private jet and a luxury yacht owned by Turkish-Iranian gold trader Reza Zarrab as part of the government’s latest response to the businessman’s guilty plea in a US trial that implicated President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s close circle.
Istanbul Public Prosecutor’s Office ordered seizure of a $58-million Challenger 300 jet belonging to a company owned by Zarrab, his 46-meter superyacht, estimated to be valued at $7 million, over espionage charges, media said on Thursday.
Zarrab is accused by Turkish authorities of leaking state secreets
Arrested in Miami in March 2016 on charges of evading US sanctions on Iran, Zarrab, 34, has pleaded guilty of the charges and agreed to cooperate with the prosecutor in bid to reduce or, if possible, avoid punishment.
Zarrab and eight other people, including Turkey’s former economy minister Zafer Caglayan and three Halkbank executives, have been charged with engaging in transactions worth hundreds of millions of dollars for Iran’s government and Iranian entities from 2010 to 2015 in a scheme to evade US sanctions.
Zarrab was the prime suspect in a major corruption investigation in Turkey that became public in December 2013 in which with others from the inner circle of the ruling AK Party government and then-Prime Minister Erdoğan for having paid Cabinet-level officials and bank officers bribes to facilitate transactions benefiting Iran.
Media reported on Dec 6 that Turkish police has detained at least 17 people including Zarrab’s three employees who allegedly sent documents to the US for the businessman’s case in New York.
Among the accusations raised against them are “partly or fully destroying the documents related to the security of the state and its domestic and foreign interests; destroying or forging them; or using them in unrelated areas; illegally obtaining or stealing them,” Hurriyet said.