Tuesday, December 5, 2017

BLOOMBERG.COM Zarrab Recorded in Jail Saying `You Have to Lie' to Get Leniency

Zarrab Recorded in Jail Saying `You Have to Lie' to Get Leniency
Bob Van Voris, Christian Berthelsen, Chris Dolmetsch
Reza Zarrab, the Turkish currency trader who admitted helping Iran move billions of dollars in violation of U.S. financial sanctions, said in a recorded jailhouse conversation that he needed to lie about his own crimes to get a reduced sentence, according to a summary of his words.
Zarrab, the government’s star witness in the trial of Turkish banker Mehmet Hakan Atilla, testified for a fourth day Monday in Manhattan federal court. Atilla’s lawyers, who could begin cross-examining Zarrab as soon as Tuesday, complained to U.S. District Judge Richard Berman in a letter Monday that prosecutors dragged their feet in turning over recordings of the Sept. 15, 2016, conversation and four others.
Zarrab has testified that he was arrested and taken into custody by Turkish financial authorities on Dec. 17, 2013. Under questioning by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sidhardha Kamaraju, Zarrab said he made payments in connection with his release from prison.
"Were they bribes?" Kamaraju asked.
"In part," Zarrab said, without explaining further.
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"Zarrab is proclaiming his willingness to fabricate testimony out of whole cloth in order to obtain a reduced sentence," Atilla’s lawyers argued in the letter, which was posted, then removed without explanation, from the publicly available court docket.
They claim the production of the evidence on Saturday at 10:42 p.m. "significantly impairs the ability of the defense" to use them at trial.
Zarrab, who was initially the key defendant in the case, spent a year in U.S. jails awaiting trial before agreeing last month to plead guilty and cooperate with the government’s case against Atilla. Though nine defendants have been charged, only Atilla, who was a deputy general manager at Turkiye Halk Bankasi AS, is being tried, and only Zarrab and Atilla are in U.S. custody.

‘In America’

In the letter, Atilla’s lawyers told Berman that Zarrab said on the jailhouse recording, "In America in order to make it out of prison you need to admit to something you haven’t committed."
Zarrab has testified to helping Iran make international payments by disguising them as payments for phony gold and food sales that were structured to make it appear that they complied with U.S. sanction regulations. On Thursday, Zarrab said he believed two Turkish banks were included in the scheme with the approval of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who at the time was Turkey’s prime minister and is now its president. 

Zarrab has pleaded guilty to seven felonies, including conspiracy, sanctions violations, bank fraud and money laundering. He admitted bribing a corrections officers in the U.S. to sneak him alcohol and let him make cell phone calls.
The case is U.S. v Zarrab, 15-cr-867, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).
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