Wanted: Owners of Six Tons of Gold Left in Historic Armenia
The US-based Armenian Mirror Spectator has published an article titled “Wanted: Owners of Six Tons of Gold Left in Historic Armenia” by Edmond Y. Adazian.
“Recently a story emerged in Switzerland about six tons of gold, shipped from historic Armenia to Geneva to be deposited at the Credit Suisse Bank, which refuses to release the treasure to a Turkish family who claims ownership,” Adazian writes.
The news first broke in the Turkish newspaper, Hurriyet, on October 17. A commentary about the case also appeared in the Turkiye newspaper by Prof. Cagri Erhan, who, rather than questioning the provenance of the treasure, questions the Credit Suisse Bank’s motives for refusing to give the gold to a businessman from Elazig (the historic Armenian city of Kharpert) named Sayid Ali Bayraki.
The Elazig businessman, Sayid Ali Bayraki, has been fighting for many years to receive 800,000 Ottoman gold coins inherited from his father. The Swiss ambassador in Turkey, Raymond Kuntz, has traveled to Elazig to discuss the case of the gold, the origins of which are still shrouded in mystery.
The author reminds that “Talaat Pasha has written in his “secret file” that 70,000 Armenians were deported from Elazig. No Armenians returned to Elazig. The wealthy Armenian families were also deported.”
Almost all the deported families hid their gold in a secret place or trusted to their Muslim neighbors, hoping to return one day. And for years stories were being circulated about hidden Armenian treasures. Additionally many Armenians visit their parent’s native towns to discover their hidden treasures.
“How could one carry 800,000 Ottoman gold coins, which weigh six metric tons, from Turkey to Switzerland?” the author asks, adding that “according to Mr. Bayraki, his father transported the six tons of gold to Switzerland, traveling on land and by sea.” Today, the 800,000 Ottoman gold coins are worth $3.5 billion.
Prof. Cagri Erhan states: “As far as I know, in the first years of Republican Turkey no citizen has owned that kind of money. For example, when the IS bank was founded in 1924 its entire capital was 250,000 Turkish liras. It is a major problem to hide that kind of money from the government. According to Bayraki, his father had earned that money doing business and he had hidden the gold in a hole dug under the house. Earning the gold by doing business is questionable because after the Turkish Republic was established, business was no longer conducted through the Ottoman currency.”
It looks like Bayraki’s father trusted the gold to the Swiss bank believing that the banking system which kept secrecy on Nazi gold would treat his treasures in the same way. But missed the fact that the gold deposited in the Swiss banks did not belong to the Nazis; it belonged to the Jews.
“There is no doubt that the Armenian lobby, which misses no opportunity, has already focused on the gold whose source is ‘unknown.’ The bank Credit Suisse is already considering the case ‘scandalous’ and believes ‘there is some conspiracy behind it.’ Therefore, we see where the case is heading and it is not right to involve the prime minister. This may create an embarrassing situation for the entire country.”
According to Adazian, “Professor Cagri maybe is referring to the Armenian lawyers when he mentions lobbyists, who went after the French and German banks and insurance companies and did a laudable job in recovering some of the funds owed to the victims of the Genocide . Fortunately, the good professor is not aware that the same lawyers have put aside the Turks for the moment and are at each other’s throats suing each other.”
The author reminds that “By the same token, the generous benefactors who initially contributed princely sums to build a Genocide Museum are again at each other’s throats, suing each other and jeopardizing the completion of the museum in time for 2015.”
“Six tons of gold are sitting in the Swiss bank. The gold is up for grabs and it can do a lot of good for Armenia. We have to rise up to the occasion. It is time to leave behind internecine squabbles and go after the gold,” the author concludes.
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