March 24, 2018

Banker's NY trial is USA conspiracy, says Turkey's President

08 December 2017, 05:20 | Taylor George

Faouzi JaberAP

Faouzi JaberAP

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.

Reza Zarrab, who is cooperating with prosecutors, testified that he got the money through a Turkish attorney whom he did not identify.

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.

Earlier on Thursday, a lawyer for Atilla, Cathy Fleming, sought through cross-examination to undermine Zarrab's credibility. He said Zarrab bragged that he was rich and could hire a private lawyer for Jaber to help him win his criminal case. In November, Zarrab raped Jaber, who "felt helpless to fight off the younger and stronger defendant", it said.

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.

Faouzi Jaber, 62, an Ivory Coast native awaiting sentencing in a federal weapons and drugs case, says in his Manhattan Supreme civil suit that he was cellmates with Reza Zarrab, 34, from 2016 through this past spring.

U.S. prosecutors have charged nine people with involvement in the case, although so far only Zarrab and Atilla have been arrested. Zarrab said he paid bribes to Aslan, repeating his testimony in direct examination, but never to Atilla.

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Reuters was not immediately able to reach Aslan for comment.

Zarrab, a Turkish and Iranian national, pleaded guilty in October to charges that he schemed to help Iran evade US sanctions.

Zarrab testified on Tuesday that in return for his guilty plea prosecutors said he would not be charged with lying to law enforcement officers after his arrest and smoking synthetic marijuana in jail.

The government's star witness in an Iran sanctions case with ties to Turkish President Recep Erdogan sexually brutalized his cellmate in a Manhattan federal lockup, according to a shocking new lawsuit.

U.S. authorities arrested Zarrab in March 2016 when he entered the United States with his wife, his daughter and four other people for a trip to Disney World.

Turkish-Iranian businessman Reza Zarrab, who agreed to cooperate with U.S. prosecutors in the trial of Mehmet Hakan Atilla, an executive at Turkey's Halkbank, has been accused of raping his cellmate in a Manhattan prison.

"Turkey has no plans against the United States, but it is clear that the USA has plans against us", Erdogan said.

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