Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan declared Sunday that businessmen who move assets abroad are committing "treason", adding that his government should put an end to the practice.
"I am aware that some businessmen are attempting to place their assets overseas. I call on the government not to authorise any such moves, because these are acts of treason," Erdoğan said.
Speaking to members of his ruling AKP in the eastern province of Muş, Erdoğan did not say to whom he was referring, nor did he single out a single business, person or country of destination.
His comments come after soL News Turkish said on Friday that Turkish prosecutors were set to seize the assets of Turkish-Iranian gold trader Reza Zarrab, who is cooperating with U.S. prosecutors in the trial of a Turkish bank executive charged with evading U.S. sanctions on Iran, and his acquaintances. Zarrab on Thursday implied in testimony that Erdoğan knew how he and defendant Mehmet Hakan Atilla, deputy chief executive of Turkish lender Halkbank, had dodged sanctions.
He told the court he was informed that in 2012, then prime minister Erdoğan and then treasury minister Ali Babacan had given "instructions" for two other Turkish public banks, Vakıf and Ziraat, to take part in the scheme.
Erdoğan said Turkey's dealings were in line with the decisions of the United Nations, adding that they were not against Ankara's alliance with Washington.
"What have we done, for example? We bought natural gas from a country we have an agreement with so our citizens wouldn't be cold in the winter. Like other countries, only the UN's decisions bind us, and Turkey followed them to the dot," Erdoğan said.