Baku, Azerbaijan, Dec. 26
By Umid Niayesh - Trend:
Iranian billionaire businessman, Babak Zanjani has denied involvement in Turkey's corruption scandal, claiming his business is completely legal. Zanjani made the remarks in a note published on Dec. 25 on Sorinet Group`s official website.
Addressing the Turkish public, Zanjani said that all of his business in Turkey is legal, adding that he has not faced any restrictions or investigation regarding to his commercial activities, excluding the number of restrictions which have been applied to Iranian citizens.
Zanjani also underlined that he has met Reza Zarrab only few time, adding that "I am not aware of his activities."
"We did not carry out any common business," he said.
Zanjani went on to note that, "if Zarraf had done any illegal business, I would not be responsible for that."
Zarrab, accused of being the ringleader in Turkey of a shady money-laundering and gold-smuggling ring established to dodge sanctions against Iran, has said to prosecutors interrogating him that Zanjani is his boss.
The Haberturk daily published a story on Dec. 21 claiming that Zanjani, whom Zarrab referred to as "my chief," evaded the operation at the last minute. The daily claimed that emails between the two showed that Zanjani had planned to come to Turkey to meet with Zarrab in a luxury hotel in Antalya this week.
Zanjani denies that he is Zarrab`s chief, adding that his business with Zarrab - which was very limited in terms of amount--was completely legal.
Zanjani also defended his gold trade in the Turkey.
"I bought 1.5 tons of gold from Ghana. I planned to sell 500 kilograms of that amount in Turkey and 1000 kilograms in Dubai. In Istanbul Ataturk Airport officials asked for the gold's documents and permitted the plane to leave the airport after the investigation," he said.
Turkish officials studied the issue repeatedly and thoroughly, Zanjani said, adding that there has not been any accusation made against him.
Haberturk claimed that when the gold was seized in Istanbul during an inspection of a ULS Airlines cargo jet en route to Dubai, Zanjani panicked. Thinking it would be confiscated by the Turkish state, he sent an urgent email asking Zarrab to immediately secure the gold by any means necessary. Zarrab used an encrypted email. This is said to be his exclusive form of communication for security reasons.
The surveillance records accused Zarrab of bribing a politician, whose name is also included in the interrogation report, and having the cargo sent to Dubai with fabricated documents saying the shipment carried "minerals."
Zanjani noted that his holding includes 64 companies, with total income which hits 6-7 billion euro per year and does not need "such little businesses" as claimed by the media.
Zanjani, whose name is blacklisted by EU and United States sanctions, owns a cosmetic company called Kont Cosmetic in Turkey. Zanjani also owns an air travel, land transportation, petrol and banking company under the name of Kont Group, which is based in Istanbul.
He is also Shareholder of Turkish "Onur" Airline Company
Edited by C.N.