Turkish gold trader begins testifying for USA prosecutors (HALKB)

Turkish gold trader begins testifying for USA prosecutors (HALKB)

Turkey's gold trader whose prosecution in NY has strained relations between the USA and Turkey, Reza Zarrab, has pleaded guilty and will serve as a cooperating witness for the us government, lawyers said.

Zarrab, dressed in tan prison fatigues, told a NY jury that Mehmet Hakan Atilla, a deputy chief executive officer at state-run Turkiye Halk Bankasi AS, "made contributions" to a years-long plot that funneled Iranian funds through the USA financial system, in violation of US sanctions.

Moments after he was escorted into the courtroom, Zarrab was asked to identify Atilla, which he did.

He said he pleaded guilty last month to seven charges, including conspiracy, violating USA sanctions, bank fraud and money laundering. Zarrab retained former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and ex-U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey to seek to broker a deal.

Reza Zarrab testified Wednesday that he helped Iran evade US economic sanctions with help from Turkish banker Mehmet Hakan Atilla. A lawyer for Atilla attacked Zarrab's credibility Tuesday during opening statements, saying the trial is about Zarrab's crimes. Prosecutors say Zarrab orchestrated the scheme with aid from Halkbank officials. On Tuesday, a Turkish prosecutor issued warrants for the detention of two citizens for cooperating with US prosecutors.

He said he initially lied to USA authorities when he was confronted with crimes.

USA prosecutors have charged nine people in the case, though only Zarrab and Atilla are known to be in American custody.

Turkey's deputy prime minister recently said Zarrab was a "hostage" being forced to testify against Turkey's government.

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