"As western nations ring-fenced Iran's banks, they created a temporary market where gold could be used to pay Iran for its only major export: oil and gas. That chaotic marketplace created opportunities for men like Sarraf. He used his connections in Iran and Turkey to move almost a metric ton of gold to Iran every day for 1 1/2 years, according to a person familiar with his finances."
To catch a glimpse of the former life of Riza Sarraf, flip through the celebrity columns ofTurkey's newspapers.
Here he is, as a fluttering tarpaulin reveals a $72 million villa on Istanbul's waterfront, a present for his pop-star wife, Ebru Gundes. Here he is, sitting near Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan at a government-housing ceremony. On another day, he clutches an award on a stage with Erdogan's wife.
To catch a glimpse of his current life, flip through the manual for a Type T Prison in Istanbul, where Sarraf shares a room with four men and the entire prison population hangs out in a common room with a radio and a small kitchen. Once a day they're allowed an hour of recreation on a basketball court.