Turkey links United States judge in sanctions case to wanted cleric

Turkish gold trader says he paid $45000 bribe to US prison guard

Erdogan attack in the US: We will not succumb to extortions

A Turkish-Iranian gold trader testifying in the trial of a Turkish banker accused of helping Iran evade USA sanctions said on Tuesday that he paid a $45,000 (33,523 pounds) bribe to a US prison guard to obtain alcohol and use the guard's phone.

The inmate, who is not being identified because he is an alleged sexual assault victim, claims that he and Mr. Zarrab became friends in the jail and that Mr. Zarrab offered to pay for him to retain a private lawyer. Zarrab has admitted paying $45,000 in bribes, carried by one of his Turkish lawyers, to a guard in exchange for alcohol and Dayquil when he was sick, and use of his cellphone.

Zarrab, 34, ingratiated himself with Jaber, 62, of the Ivory Coast, before beginning his assaults, the suit says.

He was removed from federal lockup after he struck a cooperation agreement with federal prosecutors and agreed to take the stand against Turkish banker Hakan Atilla, who is now on trial.

The U.S. attorney's office in Manhattan declined to comment. 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.

"Because the two men were alone in their locked cell (Jaber) felt helpless and unable to fight off the younger and stronger (Zarrab)", the suit says.

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 testified on Tuesday that in return for his guilty plea prosecutors said he would not be charged with lying to law enforcement officers after his arrest and smoking synthetic marijuana in jail. Zarrab is testifying against Turkish banker Mehmet Hakan Atilla.

"The issue has gone beyond a legal case, it has become a political case", spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said in reference to the NY trial of a deputy general manager at the bank, who is charged with helping Iran evade US sanctions.

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

Berman could not be reached for comment.

Zarrab has confessed to bribing USA prison guards in exchange for booze and cell phones.

President Tayyip Erdogan's spokesman said on Wednesday the USA judge hearing the trial of an executive at Turkey's state-owned Halkbank had taken part in events organized by a cleric Ankara blames for last year's failed military coup.

Zarrab and eight other people, including Turkey's former economy minister Zafer Caglayan and three Halkbank executives, have been charged with engaging in transactions worth hundreds of millions of dollars for Iran's government and Iranian entities from 2010 to 2015 in a scheme to evade USA sanctions. On Thursday CNN Turk said Erdogan had said Turkey did not violate USA sanctions.

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