News / Europe

Iran's Foreign Minister to Make Key Turkish Visit

FILE - Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif attends a working luncheon in Kuwait.
FILE - Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif attends a working luncheon in Kuwait.
Dorian Jones
The Iranian foreign minister visits Turkey Saturday as the Turkish government continues to be mired in a deepening crisis involving a Turkish state bank that allegedly laundered money sent to Iran.

The allegation is putting Ankara and its state banks under increasing international scrutiny and is raising questions about Turkey's ability to obtain future international financing and investment.

Iranian foreign minister's Mohammad Javad Zarif's one-day visit is part of ongoing efforts to improve bilateral relations between the two countries.

But the visit comes at a potentially awkward time for Ankara, with one of its most prominent state banks at the center of a graft investigation involving Iran.

Suleyman Aslan, the CEO of Halkbank, was detained after a large amount of cash was found at his home, much of it stored in shoe boxes. Prosecutors claim it is part of a conspiracy to launder billions of dollars for Tehran to avoid international sanctions.
 
Analyst Atilla Yesilada of Global Source Partners said the investigation has cast a shadow over the Turkish finance industry.

“The accusations against Halkbank suggest that the Turkish banking system is not well defended or well monitored against money laundering and terror financing," he said. "I really need to see whether the loans to Turkey will be renewed."

Trade increases

Iranian-Turkish trade has markedly increased in recent years, despite ever-tightening international sanctions against Tehran for its controversial nuclear program.
 
Much of that trade has been energy imports. Ankara is the biggest customer of Iranian gas. But international sanctions have made such trade increasingly difficult.
 
Halkbank has been at the center of a “gas-for-gold” plan that allowed Tehran to buy gold with Turkish lira in exchange for Iranian natural gas and oil. Western sanctions over Iran's nuclear program prevented the country from getting paid in euros or dollars, so Halkbank used the gold to get around the restrictions.

Washington, which is in forefront of pursuing sanctions against Tehran, had voiced concern over Ankara’s trade dealings with Iran

But Asli Aydintasbas, a political columnist for the Turkish newspaper Milliyet, said the latest allegations may only cause limited adverse effects on Ankara’s relations with Washington.

“I don’t think this going to be that damaging if it just stays at this," he said. "Turkey had significantly curtailed gold trade with Iran and the Americans were willing to overlook whatever remains. And Washington itself is trying to mend fences with Iran.”

High cost

Although the diplomatic fall out may be limited, the financial consequences could be costly.  Experts point out that there are severe penalties for any institution breaching the sanctions.

Inan Demir, chief economist for the Istanbul-based Finans Bank, said the controversy comes at a bad time for Turkey.

“There has been a lot of negative publicity around the Turkish banking system - and the state banks in particular - and even more specifically Halkbank," he said.

"At a time of tighter global liquidity conditions, this negative publicity could lead to further tightening of financing conditions," he said. "And over the next 12 months Turkey is looking to refinance $164 billion of external debt."
 
Turkey’s economic minister, Ali Babacan, has been dismissing the allegations against Halkbank, claiming it is part of a conspiracy against the bank and Turkey. He also defended Halkbank’s relations with Iran, describing it as natural and the envy of its competitors.
 
But analyst Yesilada said that a worrying uncertainty hangs over the country’s financial industry.

“Suddenly, there is this huge cloud of suspicion over Turkey in terms whether it is legitimate country to do business in,” he said.

Despite the government removing hundreds of senior police officers and prosecutors linked to the graft investigation, the probe continues.

Observers warn the prospect of further revelations would only add to feelings of uncertainty towards Turkey among international bankers and investors.

You May Like

Multimedia In US, Decision Expected Soon in Racially Charged Case

Missouri town, many Americans on edge over whether jurors will indict white police officer in August shooting death of unarmed black teen More

Corruption Fighters Want More From World’s Strongest Nations

Anti-corruption activists say final communique fell short of expectations and failed to fully address systemic problems More

Philippines Leery of Development on Reef Reclamation in S. China Sea

Chinese land reclamation projects in area have been ongoing for years, but new satellite imagery reportedly shows China’s massive construction project More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Rome from: USA
January 05, 2014 1:49 AM
The Turkish government , Is cheating , lying , circumventing each and all international laws to profit from weak Obama administration ad well as weak EU Catrine Ashton . The purpose being gaining financial strength , laying the foundation of another Sharie state like Iran with further goal to spread Islamist anarchy and terrorism through out the free world .once his dream of Ottoman Empire is in place they reveal the true back warded nature . They must be punished and stopped.


by: Godwin from: Nigeria
January 04, 2014 7:21 AM
This is more than just mere diplomatic visit, it is a thank you visit to commiserate with Ankara for its solid support to Tehran in the heat of the sanctions. It also goes beyond the support during the hard sanctions, it is to thank Turkey for revealing the spy ring whose modus operandi was graphically exposed by Ankara to Tehran around August 2013. Often times I have written here that Turkey is more or less an islamist regime and there is nothing in it that is civilized, European or NATO. Erdogan has always wished to take Turkey back to the Ottoman Empire days, rule like the Ayatollahs and make Turkey like Iran ruled with sharia laws. The sympathy is what is translated to the money laundering, and I bet the PM will do everything he is known for, including lying, to cover up for Iran.
Even though the Prime Minister may be instituting investigations into these issues of money laundering et al, he is privy to every arrangement to cushion Iran against the effects of the sanctions imposed because of its nuclear program. Thus Erdogan has voiced his support for Iran's nuclear program, but being not able to further his position, resorted to illicit, illegal and unconventional approach to helping Iran beat the sanctions. This is cheating. It lands Turkey where Iran is - axis of evil and terror, after all it has openly identified with the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt, Hamas in Gaza which are terrorist organizations, and now with Iran which is a state sponsor of terrorism worldwide and chief axis of terror. The world is waiting to see the outcome of this investigation sweep Turkey out of the EU to which it is a disgrace - if all the above allegations prove true.


by: Davis K. Thanjan from: New York
January 03, 2014 10:01 PM
Why the US and the EU are hesitant to take punitive action against the Turkish bank Halkbank and Turkey for money laundering in favor of Iran circumventing economic sanctions against Iran? Is it because of the membership of Turkey in the NATO?


by: Jacob Avi Cohen
January 03, 2014 7:25 PM
As an American, I can't believe how sneaky the Turkish government is. Turkey houses an American Air Force base and is a member of NATO. Why is Turkey money laundering dirty Iranian money. Iran is an axis of evil. Iran is a state sponsor of terrorism. Iran is a rogue state. The United States of America must question its relationship with Turkey. Turkey must not act outside international law. Iran has 1,001 world economic sanctions against it. Iran is an outlaw. Iran must be punished. Co-operating with Iran is injustice. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

In Response

by: ll cool j from: sydney
January 04, 2014 12:02 AM
Only something a redneck trailer trash from the american south would say haha! The United States is a state sponsor of terror you stupid yank! I guess this is an example of how poor your education is lol! Which country has iran invaded or attacked in the last 100 years?? Can you name one yankee boy? Or is your brain too far up your rear to think straight? The united states secretly funds factions so wars continue to brew. You donkey shagging yanks blew your own buildings up just to invade iraq and afghanistan and kill thousands of innocent people for no reason. You losers have no credibility. Bush babies. Lol

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Faminei
X
Daniel Schearf
November 23, 2014 4:32 PM
During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video Law Enforcement, Activists in Ferguson Agree to Keep Peace

Authorities in Ferguson, Missouri, say they have agreed with protest leaders to maintain peace when a grand jury reaches its decision on whether to indict a white police officer in the shooting death of a black teenager. Ferguson, a suburb of St. Louis, has been the scene of intermittent violence since the August 9 shooting intensified long-simmering antagonism between the police and the African-American community. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid