Gold trader says he never liked Turkish banker facing trial (HALKB)


Prosecutors entered this photo of Turkish gold trader Reza Zarrab as evidence in a trial of a Turkish banker accused of laundering money for Iran in contravention of USA sanctions.

Turkish authorities have detained 17 people linked to Zarrab in an investigation launched after he cooperated with USA authorities and agreed to testify in the case.

Capping off a week on the witness stand in an Iran sanctions case, gold trader Reza Zarrab recounted an attempt to assassinate him inside a US prison because of his testimony that has implicated Turkey's president and ministers in billions of illicit transactions.

But Zarrab said he never paid Atilla a bribe and that Atilla never asked him for money. Zarrab said he used the guard's phone to speak with his wife, daughter and lawyer.

The government's star witness, wealthy Turkish-Iranian businessman Reza Zarrab, conceded in testimony on December 5 that he had a proclivity to pay bribes to get what he wants, under cross-examination from Atilla's defense attorney, Cathy Fleming.

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The U.S. Bureau of Prisons could not immediately be reached for comment.

The inmate pleaded guilty in July to one count of conspiring to provide material support for a terrorist group and is awaiting sentencing in federal court.

He testified that he paid bribes to Turkish banking and government officials, including over $50 million in bribes to Turkey's former finance minister Zafer Caglayan in 2012 for his help in laundering a billion dollars in Iranian money.

Zarrab estimated that he made from $100 million to $150 million between 2010 and 2016 by carrying out various illegal schemes, including helping Iran evade US sanctions.

Halkbank said last week that it had not taken part in any illegal transactions. Under questioning by Fleming, Zarrab said he attended meetings with Atilla a "handful" of times during that period.

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Zarrab said that the man acknowledged coming after him because he had flipped to the US government.

Zarrab said that "BB" was code for "the prime minister", and the general manager was Ali Fuat, who was then in charge of Halkbank.

Zarrab had testified earlier in the case that he complained to Aslan when Atilla refused to sign off on a transaction related to a sham sale of food to Iran.

"I'm here now", the 34-year-old told Assistant U.S. Attorney Sidhardha Kamaraju.

After Zarrab stepped down from the witness stand, prosecutors called a series of current and former USA law enforcement officers.

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has called the NY trial of a Turkish banker accused of conspiring to help Iran evade US sanctions "blackmail" and a "blemish" on his country. Erdogan on Sunday dismissed the case as a politically motivated attack on Turkey. On Thursday CNN Turk said Erdogan had said Turkey did not violate USA sanctions.