Iran dismisses claims about $18.5 billion container load

August 5, 2009

TEHRAN -- The Iranian Intelligence Ministry has dismissed reports claiming that a multi-billion dollar container-load from Iran has been confiscated by Turkey’s customs office.

According to investigations conducted by the ministry, the reports claiming that $18.5 billion in cash and gold was transited from Iran to Turkey are totally baseless, the Intelligence Ministry Public Relations Department announced on Tuesday.
The statement also urged media outlets to avoid disseminating unconfirmed reports.
Prior to this announcement, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hassan Qashqavi said that relevant officials are thoroughly examining the issue.
However, Turkish customs officials have said they are unaware of such a confiscation, he said.
“After reports were disseminated by certain media outlets quoting a Turkish lawyer, the Islamic Republic’s embassy in Ankara has been seriously following up the issue,” Qashqavi added.
He also dismissed media reports claiming that the gold is worth $11 billion, saying, “The value of 20 metric tons of gold amounts to about $500 million.”
Turkey’s Kanal D channel had earlier reported that Iranian businessman Esmael Safarian-Nasab had moved $7.5 billion in cash and 20 tons of gold to Turkey in October 2008.
In an interview with Kanal D, Safarian-Nasab’s lawyer, Senol Ozel, said that his client wants his money and gold back.
Ozel says the Turkish government’s new regulations to attract foreign investment had encouraged his client to move his fortune to Turkey but Safarian-Nasab now wants to withdraw his investment.
Turkish State Minister Hayati Yazici dismissed the report as “false and baseless”, Turkey’s official news agency Anadolu reported