Couriers carrying millions in gold bullion to Iran in their luggage to beat Western sanctions

Originally posted on National Post | News:

DUBAI/ISTANBUL — To see one of Iran’s financial lifelines at work, pay a visit to Istanbul’s Ataturk International Airport and find a gate for a flight to Dubai.

Couriers carrying millions of dollars worth of gold bullion in their luggage have been flying from Istanbul to Dubai, where the gold is shipped on to Iran, according to industry sources with knowledge of the business.

The sums involved are enormous. Official Turkish trade data suggests nearly $2-billion worth of gold was sent to Dubai on behalf of Iranian buyers in August. The shipments help Tehran manage its finances in the face of Western financial sanctions.

The sanctions, imposed over Iran’s disputed nuclear programme, have largely frozen it out of the global banking system, making it hard for it to conduct international money transfers. By using physical gold, Iran can continue to move its wealth across borders.

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