Gold trader Zarrab accused of raping ex-cellmate in his sixties

Banker's New York trial is US conspiracy, says Turkey's President

Zarrab said he used the guard's phone to speak with his wife, daughter and lawyer.

A Turkish gold trader testifying for US prosecutors in the trial of an executive at Turkey's state-owned Halkbank, who is charged with helping Iran evade USA sanctions, said Tuesday that he and the banker never liked each other. The U.S. Bureau of Prisons did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Turkish-Iranian businessman Reza Zarrab, who agreed to cooperate with United States prosecutors in the trial of Mehmet Hakan Atilla, an executive at Turkey's Halkbank charged with violating U.S. sanctions on Iran, has been accused of raping his cellmate in a Manhattan prison. He has pleaded not guilty. The testimony came as Zarrab was cross-examined by one of Atilla's lawyers, Cathy Fleming.

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. The other inmate said he was impressed by Zarrab's wealth and power, especially since it helped him to buy "special treatment" from inmates and guards. Halkbank said last week that it had not taken part in any illegal transactions. Zarrab conceded under her questioning that he had lied repeatedly in the course of business, including to Atilla.

Istanbul Public Prosecutor's Office ordered seizure of a $58-million Challenger 300 jet belonging to a company owned by Zarrab, his 46-meter superyacht, estimated to be valued at $7 million, over espionage charges, media said on Thursday. 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.

Zarrab said he paid bribes to Aslan, repeating his testimony in direct examination, but never to Atilla.

Media reported on Dec 6 that Turkish police has detained at least 17 people including Zarrab's three employees who allegedly sent documents to the U.S. for the businessman's case in NY.

Zarrab, 34, was arrested by US authorities in March 2016 on suspicion of taking part in the alleged sanctions-busting scam but is now cooperating with the authorities in an apparent plea bargain.

Acting US Attorney Joon H. Kim has called claims the prosecution is driven by Turkish politics "ridiculous on their face".

Zarrab estimated that he made from $100 million to $150 million between 2010 and 2016 by carrying out various illegal schemes, including helping Iran dodge USA sanctions with hundreds of millions of dollars. Erdogan on Sunday dismissed the case as a politically motivated attack on Turkey. He said prosecutors told him he would not be charged for those crimes because they were outside USA jurisdiction.

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



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