A Turkish-Iranian gold trader has admitted to conspiring to evade US sanctions against Iran, a US prosecutor said on Tuesday.
He said that Reza Zarrab pleaded guilty to conspiring to evade US sanctions against Iran and will testify against a Turkish bank official who is charged with arranging illegal transactions involving American banks.
Zarrab will describe a multibillion-dollar international money laundering scheme “from the inside,” Assistant US Attorney David Denton said during his opening statement in the New York federal court trial of Mehmet Hakan Atilla, the deputy general manager of Turkey’s Halkbank.
Atilla’s lawyer, Victor Rocco, attacked Zarrab’s credibility in his opening statement, telling jurors that Zarrab was prepared to lie to avoid jail time.
US prosecutors have charged nine people in the case, though only Zarrab and Atilla are known to be in US custody. The other defendants include the former head of Halkbank, Suleyman Aslan, and the former economy minister of Turkey, Zafer Caglayan.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government has said the case was fabricated for political motives, adding to tensions between Ankara and Washington.