Turkish ministers split on export award to key graft suspect

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Two leading members of the Turkish government have been poles apart regarding their attendance of a ceremony in which a controversial Iranian-Turkish businessman, involved in a huge corruption scandal that has since shaken the country, was awarded for his company's high export performance.

In the general meeting of the Turkish Exporters Assembly (T?M) on June 21, which was attended by President Recep Tayyip Erdo?an along with several cabinet ministers, Reza Zarrab, embroiled in Turkey's huge corruption probe that went public in December 2013, was awarded for his company's high export performance. Along with T?M President Mehmet Büyükek?i, Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmu? and Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci presented Zarrab with the "export champion" award for his company Volgam G?da, involved in the jewelry sector.

'No guilty conscience'

Economy Minister Zeybekci said he had "no guilty conscience" over attending the ceremony, while Deputy Prime Minister Kurtulmu? voiced his regret in strongly-worded remarks, which underlined the award as a "fait accompli."

"I saw the president of the administrative board of the company just yesterday [June 21]. I don't know him by sight either. It is not the state, but the sector, that drew up the list of nominees," Zeybekçi told reporters on June 22.

"[Zarrab's] company came first in its sector. We didn't know until that moment. If we had known, I don't know what would have happened. But it would be very exhausting if we started debating about who various politicians in Turkey should or should not stand next to," Zeybekci said.

"But as the economy minister, I have no guilty conscience over a person whom I saw for the first time," he said, shying away from using the word ...

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