Erdogan helped Iran evade United States sanctions, Zarrab claims

Lester Mason
December 7, 2017

His comments in Ankara on December 5 came as the trial of Halkbank executive Mehmet Hakan Atilla continued with a fifth day of testimony by the US government's star witness and alleged mastermind of the scheme to evade sanctions.

US prosecutors say claims the trial resulted from political maneuvering are "ridiculous".

For two days, Atilla's attorney Cathy Fleming has sought to undermine that narrative during detailed cross-examination of Zarrab, who acknowledged to the jury on Wednesday that he left Atilla out of the loop for particularly sensitive transactions.

To view the full article, register now. Zarrab previously testified under questioning by a prosecutor that he worked with Halkbank from 2012 to 2016 to help Iran spend its oil and gas revenue overseas using fraudulent gold and food transactions. He said Atilla helped structure those transactions.

Among the accusations raised against them are "partly or fully destroying the documents related to the security of the state and its domestic and foreign interests; destroying or forging them; or using them in unrelated areas; illegally obtaining or stealing them", Hurriyet said. Under questioning by Fleming, Zarrab said he attended meetings with Atilla a "handful" of times during that period.

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. He said he had a "close relationship" with Suleyman Aslan, who was Halkbank's general manager and Atilla's superior until 2013.

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.

On Tuesday, Zarrab acknowledged that Atilla never solicited nor received a bribe from him.

Al Jazeera's Kristen Saloomey reports from NY.

A trial playing out in NY is being watched carefully in Turkey. "You are furious with people in Turkey that it did not work, isn't that true?"

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. Fleming asked. "I don't have any anger toward anybody, ma'am", Zarrab said. Erdogan on Sunday dismissed the case as a politically motivated attack on Turkey.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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