Erdogan helped Iran evade United States sanctions, Zarrab claims

Erdogan helped Iran evade United States sanctions, Zarrab claims

Arrested in Miami in March 2016 on charges of evading United States sanctions on Iran, Zarrab, 34, has pleaded guilty of the charges and agreed to cooperate with the prosecutor in bid to reduce or, if possible, avoid punishment. He said he did not read Farsi and had signed the letter without knowing what it meant.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Tuesday that the NY trial of a Turkish banker is a USA conspiracy being staged to "blackmail" and "blemish" his country.

The banker, Mehmet Hakan Atilla, has pleaded not guilty and his lawyers say he accepted no bribes and did not break the law.

Zarrab is a rich former pal of Erdogan who copped a plea and agreed to cooperate with Manhattan feds in their caseagainst a Turkish banker - defying Erdogan's wishes. Only Zarrab, 34, and Atilla, 47, have been arrested by US authorities.

The accusations have surfaced as Zarrab testifies before a federal court in Manhattan on his role in a lucrative regional trade circuit, that saw Iran inject billions of euros of hydrocarbon revenues into the global banking sector via Turkey's Halkbank public banking institution - circumventing U.S. sanctions prohibiting trade with Tehran. Zarrab said he sometimes complained about Atilla to Aslan.

His testimony turned dramatic Thursday as it neared its end as Assistant U.S. Attorney Sidhardha Kamaraju elicited a description of a jailhouse attack.

Afterward, Zarrab was removed from prison and has remained since in the custody of Federal Bureau of Investigation agents, though he has not said where. He testified that he might be permitted to be released on bail once the trial is finished.

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The plaintiff in the lawsuit says he was extradited previous year to New York City from Prague and is being held in a federal lockup in Manhattan while awaiting sentencing.

Zarrab has been on the stand for seven days and is undergoing cross-examination by Atilla's lawyer. Mr. Zarrab also had money wired to the inmate's family in Africa and placed in the inmate's commissary account, the lawsuit said.

Zarrab bragged about his wealth, how it got him favors and that he would help the plaintiff win his case, according to the suit.

Zarrab was eventually moved to a different floor, but then the other inmate was moved to the same floor, which Zarrab told him happened because he bribed a worker with $4,000, according to the suit.

The two men were housed in different cells in the same unit of the Brooklyn jail when they developed a friendship because both were Shia Muslims, the suit claims.

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".

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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