US tells Turkey not to worry about Zanjani case

Photo: US tells Turkey not to worry about Zanjani case / Turkey

The Turkish government has nothing to be concerned about with regard to Babak Zanjani, the Iranian businessman blacklisted by the U.S. and the EU for helping Iran evade U.N. sanctions and currently under arrest in Tehran, according to a high-level Turkish official speaking on condition of anonymity, Hurriyet Daily News reported.

There is no reason to be concerned about Zanjani's possible testimony about links to Turkey, the official said, stressing that U.S. officials had told their Turkish counterparts that there was no need to worry about Zanjani's case, which might implicate Turkey.

The U.S. and the EU have both blacklisted the Iranian businessman for helping Iran's government and several firms evade an oil embargo. The Iranian Parliament began investigating his business dealings after he was accused of withholding $1.9 billion of oil revenue meant to be channeled through his companies, and he was arrested last December.

The Turkish public recently became familiar with Zanjani, who is allegedly the partner of an Azeri businessman and gold dealer, Reza Zarrab, who has been accused of bribing ministers to cover up a deal that allegedly saw Iran sell oil and gas to Turkey in return for cash that was then converted into gold by a Turkish bank and exported to Tehran, often via Dubai.

There has been speculation that Zanjani may reveal his possible dealings with Turkish figures or institutions, thus embarrassing Turkey and revealing that it was not abiding by sanctions on Iran.

When asked whether he was concerned that Zanjani's possible testimony could create a headache for Turkey in the international scene, the official said "not at all," adding that the U.S. had told Ankara that the case did not involve anything that could implicate Turkey.

Ankara believes Zanjani's case is an internal Iranian affair. According to the official, it is a matter of settling accounts between President Hassan Rouhani and his predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, as the money that the current administration is pursuing seems to have evaporated within Iran.

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