A gold trader jailed in the U.S. asked an associate to consult with fortune tellers about cooperating with prosecutors in a trial over sanctions against Iran, Turkish media reported Monday.
The reports were based on papers seized by associates of the trader, Reza Zarrab, who was the lead defendant in the internationally sensitive case until he turned star government witness.
The associate said in a letter that she met with mystics at Zarrab’s request, according to Hurriyet Daily News. Among the advice given: “Wrong choices [made] under claustrophobia” and “the government may not protect.”
Whatever the fortune tellers thought, Zarrab cut a deal with New York prosecutors and pleaded guilty to seven counts of money-laundering, conspiracy and other crimes. He is in his fourth day on the stand, testifying against a Turkish bank executive.
Based on the documents seized by Turkish authorities, he may be considering a move to the United Arab Emirates when he’s done cooperating and serving whatever sentence he gets.
“Ask the lawyer: ‘Can he settle in Dubai after he finishes his sentence if he cooperates with the prosecutors in the U.S.? Can he arrange the residence permit if there is direct deportation to Dubai from the U.S.?'” Zarrab wrote in a note to one of his associates, according to Hurriyet.
The Istanbul prosecutor’s office has detained three of the associates and also announced plans to seize Zarrab’s assets. According to court documents, Zarrab owns 20 properties, a stable of expensive horses, seven boats, a fleet of luxury cars, a private jet and $10 million worth of art — though it’s not clear how much of that is still in Turkey.
The moves against Zarrab, 34, come days after he implicated Turkish President Recep Erdogan in the sanctions-busting scheme, testifying that in 2012 he ordered two banks to join the operation to move Iranian oil and gas money through American banks in violation of U.S. sanctions.
On Sunday, Erdogan denied that Turkey had done anything wrong.
“We bought natural gas from a country we have an agreement with so our citizens wouldn’t be cold in the winter. Like other countries, only the UN’s decisions bind us, and Turkey followed them to the dot,” he said in a televised address, according to Reuters.
Erdogan, who has kept a state of emergency in place since a coup attempt in 2016, repeated his allegation that a former rival now living in exile in the U.S. is the hidden hand behind the trial — a claim New York prosecutors say is ludicrous.
“We will not succumb to this blackmail,” Erdogan said.
Prosecutors are expected to question Zarrab for several more hours on Monday before defense lawyers representing Halkbank deputy general manager Hakan Atilla get a chance to grill him. One of Atilla’s lawyers, Cathy Fleming, said she expects the cross-examination to last at least a day.
Atilla’s legal team, whose fees are being paid by the government-controlled bank, has painted the banker as a dupe being used by Zarrab as a “get out jail free card.”
During his testimony Monday, Zarrab admitted that he paid bribes to get out of prison when he was arrested in Turkey in 2013 as part of a corruption probe.
Article Source : https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/turkish-president-erdogan-says-u-s-sanctions-trial-blackmail-n826151?cid=public-rss_20171205