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08 December 2017, 05:21 | Opal Carroll
Turkey detains 17 for ‘providing US with information’ for Zarrab case by Turkey Purge | Dec 7 2017 | Today in Crackdown
His comments in Ankara, Turkey, came as the trial of Halkbank executive Mehmet Hakan Atilla continued in its second week, with Turkish-Iranian gold trader Reza Zarrab describing criminal activities he was forced to divulge after he pleaded guilty to seven charges in October and became a government cooperator. 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.
The executive, Mehmet Hakan Atilla, has pleaded not guilty and the bank has said that all of its transactions complied with global regulations.
Zarrab said he worked with Halkbank from 2012 to 2016 to help Iran spend its oil and gas revenue overseas using fraudulent gold and food transactions.
Jaber's suit says Zarrab, a wealthy gold trader, first befriended him in Manhattan's Metropolitan Correctional Center based on their shared Shia Muslim faith.
"Because the two men were alone in their locked cell (Jaber) felt helpless and unable to fight off the younger and stronger (Zarrab)", the suit says.
Halkbank said last week that it had not taken part in any illegal transactions.
USA prosecutors say claims the trial resulted from political maneuvering are "ridiculous".
Zarrab testified that he never paid Atilla a bribe and that Atilla never asked him for money. Zarrab conceded under her questioning that he had lied repeatedly in the course of business, including to Atilla.
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.
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. Zarrab said the inmate confronted him with a knife and said "he had received instructions to kill me because I was cooperating".
Turkish authorities have detained 17 people linked to Zarrab in an investigation launched after he cooperated with US authorities and agreed to testify in the case.
Zarrab has accused Turkish politicians, including President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of helping Iran evade US sanctions.
Zarrab pleaded guilty to charges that he schemed to help Iran evade USA sanctions in October. Erdogan on Sunday dismissed the case as a politically motivated attack on Turkey.
"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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