World

Turkey seizes USA witness Reza Zarrab's private jet, yacht

Turkey seizes USA witness Reza Zarrab's private jet, yacht

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Tuesday that the trial is a conspiracy to "blemish" the country.

A Turkish-Iranian gold trader testifying in the trial of a Turkish banker accused of helping Iran evade US sanctions said on Tuesday that he paid a $45,000 (33,523 pounds) bribe to a USA prison guard to obtain alcohol and use the guard's phone.

One of the Turkish banks processing these transactions had a branch here in New York, Zarrab said last week.

Since Zarrab became a witness, deputy chief executive of Turkish lender Halkbank Mehmet Hakan Atilla has become the lone defendant in the dock accused of violating sanctions, bribery and money laundering. Zarrab said he sometimes complained about Atilla to Aslan.

The executive, Mehmet Hakan Atilla, has pleaded not guilty and the bank has said that all of its transactions complied with worldwide regulations.

Zarrab said that retaliation from his government has not stopped him from testifying.

On Thursday CNN Turk reported that Erdogan had said Turkey did not violate USA sanctions.

Corroborating criticisms that justice was not served by the probe's closure, Zarrab said that he helped pay his way out of a Turkish prison. According to a transcript of sidebar conversations between the judge and lawyers, Atilla's defense lawyers considered confronting Zarrab on the witness stand with the accusations but decided against it.




"I came face-to-face with an individual who tried to take my life", Zarrab said, speaking faster and louder than before. He testified that he might be permitted to be released on bail once the trial is finished.

From 2016 to June 2017, Zarrab "paid correction officers" in NY "to smuggle contraband, including cellphones and alcohol into the jail for him", according to court documents released last month.

According to the suit, Ivorian inmate Faouzi Jaber alleges the Turkish-Iranian gold trader of sexually assaulted him while they shared a cell in a Manhattan federal prison between November 2016 and March of this year. He said Zarrab bragged that he was rich and could hire a private lawyer for Jaber to help him win his criminal case.

Zarrab has confessed to bribing United States prison guards in exchange for booze and cell phones.

The inmate, who is in his early 60s, "felt helpless and unable to fight off the younger and stronger" man, the suit says, adding that the inmate was also "too scared and embarrassed at that time to complain or to seek help".

After that, Zarrab "started telling plaintiff that he likes having sex with both men and women" and "started masturbating in front of plaintiff", the lawsuit claimed.

Ben Brafman, an attorney for Zarrab, said his client "categorically denies the allegation and intends to vigorously defend against the lawsuit".


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