Erdogan says not calling for limited capital flows

The Sun

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ANKARA: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday insisted he was not instructing capital flows to be limited a day after he said moving assets abroad was an act of treason.

"There is no request from me or instruction to limit capital movements," Erdogan said.

"Turkey is a free market economy," he said during a speech in Ankara. "Since 1989, everyone has had the right to take money abroad if they want.

"Without a doubt, it continues as before."

Erdogan's comments on Sunday raised fears over restrictions on capital flows after he called on the government not to allow businessmen to place their assets overseas on Sunday and said such moves were "acts of treason". He did not provide any names.

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag later told reporters that Turks and foreign investors "had the right" to invest wherever, whether inside Turkey or abroad.

But Erdogan urged businessmen and women to show a "domestic, national" stance while the country was "coming under attack from elsewhere".

"If in this period, they do not stake a claim to the country's economy, when will they do so? I'm sorry but business people who do not trust their country ... as it goes towards possible double-digit GDP growth in the third quarter are not patriotic."

He added his previous comments were critical of the businessmen and women showing a lack of trust in Turkey and taking their assets abroad.

During Erdogan's speech, the Turkish lira hit a daily high of 3.90 against the US dollar just before 1200 GMT after it begun the day at 3.92.

The Turkish currency has declined by 13.5% against the greenback since Sept.

The president's remarks come after the Istanbul prosecutor on Friday ordered the seizure of assets of a gold trader testifying in a New York trial against a Turkish banker accused of violating US sanctions against Iran.

The public prosecutor said the assets of Reza Zarrab and his family would be confiscated as part of a probe into "espionage" for the benefit of a foreign state.

Zarrab, the prosecution's star witness, admitted last week during the trial to being involved in a multi-billion-dollar gold-for-oil scheme to breach US sanctions.

Erdogan on Sunday described the Manhattan trial as an "attempt at blackmail" to which "we will not submit". Ankara previously called it a "plot" against Turkey. — AFP