UPDATE 1-Turkish gold trader says he paid $45,000 bribe to U.S. prison guard

From Reuters - December 5, 2017

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

Reza Zarrab, who is cooperating with prosecutors, testified that he got the money through a Turkish attorney whom he did not identify. Zarrab said he used the guards phone to speak with his wife, daughter and lawyer.

The U.S. Bureau of Prisons could not immediately be reached for comment.

Mehmet Hakan Atilla, an executive at Turkeys state-owned Halkbank, is on trial in Manhattan federal court. Hehas pleaded not guilty.

Zarrab testified on Tuesday under cross-examination by Atillas attorney, Cathy Fleming, that he and Atilla did not like each other.

Zarrab said he worked with Halkbank from 2012 to 2016 to help Iran spend its oil and gas revenue abroad using fraudulent gold and food transactions. He said Atilla helped structure those transactions.

Halkbank said last week that it had not taken part in any illegal transactions.

Under questioning by Fleming, Zarrab said he attended meetings with Atilla a handful of times during that period. He said he had a close relationship with Suleyman Aslan, who was Halkbanks general manager and Atillas superior until 2013. Zarrab said he sometimes complained about Atilla to Aslan.

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.


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