Insider news & Analysis in Iran

By INU Staff

INU - The US government's star witness in a huge court case related to the breaching of sanctions against the Iranian Regime has admitted that he paid bribes in order to get released from a Turkish jail after his 2013 arrest as part of another sanctions evasion plot by the Iranian Regime.

Reza Zarrab, who pleaded guilty to charges of helping the Iranian Regime to evade US sanctions, said that he secured his release from Turkey in February 2014 after being arrested for helping the Iranian Regime to evade UN sanctions.

However he did not say who the payments were made to or how large they were and as yet the Turkish government has not responded.

Zarrab, 34, is testifying against Mehmet Hakan Atilla, an executive at Turkey's state-owned Halkbank, who is on trial for his role in the scheme to launder $1 bn through US banks to Iran in direct violation of US sanctions.

Atilla, 47, denied the charges against him and his lawyers claim that Zarrab is lying. Zarrab’s lawyer, Robert Anello, insists that his client recognises the importance of telling the truth.

Halkbank said that all of its transactions complied with national and international regulations.

Working on behalf of the Iranian Regime

It is important to note that while Zarrab has confessed to the crime and Atilla is on trial, the real criminal here is the Iranian Regime. The leading mullahs in the Regime are the ones who instructed and authorised this major money laundering scheme; it is not something that two individuals would think to complete on their own, given the incredible risks involved.

Zarrab worked with Halkbank for the Iranian Regime since before his arrest in Turkey and until his arrest in the United States in March 2016. He said that Atilla had continued to participate in the Iranian Regime’s sanctions evasion scheme long after the Turkish investigation was dropped.

The case

The US prosecutors have charged nine defendants in the case of the sanctions evasion scheme, but only Zarrab and Atilla have been arrested by US authorities. The other seven, including several high-ranking Turkish officials, remain at large.

Zarrab's testimony implicated several top Turkish politicians, including President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Erdogan claimed that his political opponents were behind both the current US case and the 2013 Turkish case and recently called on the US to drop the case.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said that the US was attempting to undermine Turkey's economy. It is believed that Turkey will seize Zarrab's assets.

 

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