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Turkey's Erdogan Says Moving Business Assets Abroad Is ‘Treason’

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (file photo)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said that businessmen who attempt to move assets abroad are committing "treason."

Erdogan on December 3 said in televised comments that "I am aware that some businessmen are attempting to place their assets overseas. I call on the government not to authorize any such moves, because these are acts of treason."

Erdogan, speaking at a political meeting in the eastern town on Mus, did not mention any names in his comments.

But the remarks come just days after prosecutors ordered the seizure of assets of a Turkish-Iranian gold trader testifying in New York against a Turkish banker accused of violating U.S. sanctions against Iran.

In testimony, Reza Zarrab has accused Erdogan and other government officials of signing off on a transaction in a $1 billion scheme to launder Iranian oil and gas revenue through gold transactions to allow Tehran to use its funds internationally in violation of U.S. sanctions.

Zarrab has pleaded guilty to bank fraud, money-laundering, and other charges and has been cooperating with authorities in the case.

Erdogan and other officials have denied any wrongdoing.

On December 3, Erdogan called the New York trial an "attempt at blackmail" which "we will not submit" to.

Based on reporting by AFP, Trend, and Middle East Eye