Erdogan helped Iran evade USA sanctions, Zarrab claims

Erdogan helped Iran evade USA sanctions, Zarrab claims

Erdogan helped Iran evade USA sanctions, Zarrab claims

A Turkish-Iranian gold trader testifying for USA prosecutors in a criminal trial involving sanctions against Iran said on Thursday that he was removed from a NY federal jail after another inmate threatened to kill him for cooperating with authorities.

"I came face to face with an individual who was trying to take my life, and he had pulled a knife on me, and I was about to lose my life", Zarrab told a NY jury on Thursday.

Far away from his birthplace of Iran, Zarrab has made powerful enemies in his adopted country of Turkey, where his pop-star wife and other members of his family remain.

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.

Zarrab hired a private lawyer for Jaber and in September 2016 put money in Jaber's commissary account, the suit says.

He told the court that he admitted to US prosecutors that he had paid bribes in Turkey, misstated his Turkish income between 2002 and 2016 and procured prostitutes for other people around 2013. He said he did not read Farsi and had signed the letter without knowing what it meant.

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

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 said that retaliation from his government has not stopped him from testifying. He said prosecutors told him he would not be charged for those crimes because they were outside US jurisdiction.

From that perch, Zarrab lobbed new accusations against powerful Turkish politicians today involving the aftermath of a 2013 corruption scandal that gripped Turkey.

Zarrab's testimony likely will win him leniency against charges that otherwise could carry a prison term of up to 130 years.

In January, Zarrab bragged he had bribed a Bureau of Prisons employee $4,000 so both men would be moved to a wing of the prison with cells that afforded more privacy, Jaber charges.

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"How did you get out of those charges?"

"I came face-to-face with an individual who tried to take my life", Zarrab said, speaking faster and louder than before.

Zarrab said he spoke about that idea with his attorney, "possibly" in 2014.

In November, Zarrab anally raped Jaber, according to the suit.

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.

In another conversation, Zarrab's attorney said that he would "meet with BB and would also summon the general manager".

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