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Bloomberg: Turkey Crisis Puts Jailed Millionaire at Heart of Gold Trail

Author: Mehul Srivastava
January 29, 2014


"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.

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