Turkey is once again in hot water with US, this time over president Erdogan’s unflinching support of his comrade President Maduro, which comradery may have extended to shady business dealings. The Turkish government is coming under renewed pressure to stop buying gold from Venezuela, the BBC has learned. After the visit of Treasury Undersecretary Marshall Billingslea to Turkey to warn them, Turkish authorities announced the meeting was cordial, but BBC claims otherwise.
The United States is monitoring trade between its NATO ally Turkey and Venezuela and will take action if it judges any sanctions have been violated, a senior U.S. official said on Thursday. Three months ago Washington introduced new sanctions aimed at disrupting gold sales from Venezuela, which exported more than 20 tons of the precious metal to Turkey in 2018.
The Turkish government is coming under renewed pressure to stop buying gold from Venezuela, the BBC has learned.
Turkey is now considered the main concern among the countries engaging in the trade.
There are growing suspicions that gold exported to Turkey is ending up in Iran, which would violate US sanctions.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has sided strongly with Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, who is facing a growing political challenge.
The BBC has been told that Ankara has received fresh warnings about potential sanctions-busting.
Moreover, Turkey is now seen by Western governments as posing by far the biggest concern regarding the trade, over and above Russia and the United Arab Emirates, both of which are also reportedly receiving the gold.
Russian and Turkish private jets appear to have travelled to Caracas in recent days. Ankara insists its trade is in accordance with international regulations.
Venezuela’s Industry Minister Tareck El Aissami visited a Turkish gold refinery in Corum, near Ankara, last month.
One of the private jets spotted travelling to Caracas in recent days belonged to Ciner group, a major Turkish mining company, with close ties to President Erdogan.
A Venezuelan opposition MP, José Guerra, claims a Russian plane belonging to the company Nordwind landed in Caracas with the aim of transporting at least 20 tons of gold out of the country.
In the past even talk of American sanctions proved costly for Turkey, as the currency plummeted and its banks experienced difficulties rolling over maturing F/X loans.
Sources: Turkish press, BBC news, Reuters, Yahoo News