Turkey dismisses gold trader 'slander' in USA court

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Reza Zarrab told a NY court on Wednesday that he had bribed Zafer Caglayan in order to facilitate illegal gold transactions with sanctions-hit Iran.

The testimony in the Manhattan federal court trial of banker Mehmet Hakan Atilla came one day after prosecutors officially revealed the cooperation deal with Zarrab, who hired ex-mayor Rudy Giuliani and former attorney general Michael Mukasey earlier this year to try to work out a diplomatic solution.

Anadolu Agency says the Istanbul chief prosecutor's office ordered the arrests of Osman Zeki Canitez and former opposition party legislator Aykan Erdemir on Tuesday.

Zarrab had been due to go on trial but is now the prosecution's star witness.

In this courtroom sketch Judge Richard Berman, second from right, and prosecuting Assistant U.S. Attorney Sidhardha Kamarju, far right, listen as Turkish-Iranian gold trader Reza Zarrab, second from left, with the aide of an unidentified interpreter, far left, describe a scheme using a diagram he drew, outlining how he helped Iran evade U.S. economic sanctions Wednesday Nov. 29, 2017, in NY.

Turkey later dropped the charges, and Ankara now claims they were "fabricated".

Zarrab and numerous eight other named defendants in the case have close ties with the government of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has repeatedly called on the United States to release Zarrab, who was arrested previous year. He explained how he falsified customs documents to make it appear that gold was bound for Iran, rather than Dubai.

Denton said Zarrab has accepted responsibility for "busting sanctions and laundering money", and he now will "tell the inside story and expose the truth behind all those elaborate lies" told to cover up the scheme.

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And then, Rocco said, referring to Zarrab's plea agreement, "he made the deal of a lifetime".

Zarrab told the court that he paid 45 to 50 million euros ($53.2 to $59.1 million) plus approximately $7 million in bribes to the minister between March 2012 and March the following year.

"The evidence will show he [Zarrab] waged economic jihad against the US", he said in his opening.

Caglayan and Suleyman have also both been charged in the case.

An executive at the bank rejected his offer, Zarrab said, but he appealed to the then-economy minister, Mehmet Zafer Caglayan, to intercede on his behalf.

Zarrab testified that before working with Halkbank, he handled Iranian transactions through Turkey's Aktif Bank.

"Our bank. has had no dealings with the Royal Shipping group owned by Reza Zarrab", it said.

Rocco said Zarrab has been "squirreled away somewhere with Federal Bureau of Investigation agents in some unknown place", waiting to testify as early as November 29. However, Aktif Bank later shut down the account after receiving a warning from the United States, Zarrab said.

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