Aktif Bank says has not violated U.S., worldwide sanctions

Dec 01, 2017, 01:40
Aktif Bank says has not violated U.S., worldwide sanctions

USA prosecutors have charged nine people in the case, although only Zarrab, 34, and Atilla, 47, have been arrested by US authorities.

Turkish gold trader Reza Zarrab, who is a witness, testified on Wednesday that he had initially handled Iranian transactions through Aktif Bank.

Zarrab, 34, who has pled guilty to fraud charges in the case and is cooperating as the government's star witness, described discussing the scheme to evade sanctions with Caglayan, including using suitcases full of gold to launder Iran's money.

A Turkish gold trader testified Thursday that he was told his scheme to move billions of dollars in Iranian oil profits in violation of USA sanctions was approved by Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Both Caglayan and Aslan were charged in the case.

Reza Zarrab (RAY'-zah ZA'-rahb) got a reprieve Thursday from the drab tan prisoner-style fashion he wore on his first day of testimony at the trial of Mehmet Hakan Atilla. US authorities say bank officials such as Atilla helped hide the arrangement.

Turkey's deputy prime minister recently said Zarrab was a "hostage" being forced to testify against Turkey's government. He resigned at the end of 2013 when Turkish authorities started investigating whether he and other ministers took bribes from Zarrab to help Iran evade United Nations sanctions.

"I did not know what I was facing and after a long trip I was shocked and I couldn't give the right answers", Zarrab said.

Mr. Zarrab testified that it was Zafer Caglayan, Turkey's economy minister at the time, who told him of Mr. Erdogan's approval for the two banks, Ziraat Bank and VakifBank, to participate in the scheme.

Zarrab said he pleaded guilty last month to seven charges, including conspiracy, violating US sanctions, bank fraud, money laundering and paying a bribe to a prison guard to get alcohol and the use of a cellphone.

Zarrab said he used Halkbank to continue his transactions with Iran after Aktif Bank stopped working with him. Atilla has pleaded not guilty. Officials there have called it a sham aimed at discrediting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government.