Turkey seizes United States witness Reza Zarrab's private jet, yacht


Zarrab was the prime suspect in a major corruption investigation in Turkey that became public in December 2013 in which with others from the inner circle of the ruling AK Party government and then-Prime Minister Erdoğan for having paid Cabinet-level officials and bank officers bribes to facilitate transactions benefiting Iran.

The accusations have surfaced as Zarrab testifies before a federal court in Manhattan on his role in a lucrative regional trade circuit, that saw Iran inject billions of euros of hydrocarbon revenues into the global banking sector via Turkey's public banking institution - circumventing USA sanctions prohibiting trade with Teheran.

- Turkey's president says the NY trial of a Turkish banker is a USA conspiracy being staged to "blackmail" and "blemish" his country.

Arrested in Miami in March 2016 on charges of evading USA sanctions on Iran, Zarrab, 34, has pleaded guilty of the charges and agreed to cooperate with the prosecutor in bid to reduce or, if possible, avoid punishment.

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Earlier on Thursday, a lawyer for Atilla, Cathy Fleming, sought through cross-examination to undermine Zarrab's credibility. Zarrab also wired money to Jaber's family in Africa, the suit says. "I came face-to-face with an individual who tried to take my life", Zarrab said, speaking faster and louder than before.

The latest incident, on March 8, resulted in complaints from both Jaber and other inmates, who heard him "yelling and making noise" following an alleged attack by Zarrab, the lawsuit said.

He said that although the Federal Bureau of Prisons found the allegations to be "unsubstantiated", that did not mean that it did not happen, just that there was not sufficient evidence - and added Zarrab bribed his prison guards to obtain alcohol and a telephone while behind bars.

That's where a banker accused of helping to launder money for Iran is from. He has said he may have an opportunity to be released on bail once he finishes testifying.

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Zarrab's testimony in the ongoing case will likely will win him leniency against charges that could carry a prison term of up to 130 years. According to a transcript of sidebar conversations between the judge and lawyers, Atilla's defense lawyers considered confronting Zarrab on the witness stand with the accusations but decided against it.

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

"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.

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