Turkey detains 17 people in investigation related to gold trader Zarrab: agency

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is calling the NY trial of a Turkish banker a USA conspiracy being staged to "blackmail" and "blemish" his country.

Reza 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.

Halkbank has said all of its transactions complied with national and worldwide regulations.

Zarrab testified that he worked with Halkbank on behalf of Iran both before and after his arrest in Turkey, and continued to do so until his US arrest in March 2016.

Zarrab said he made payments to secure his release in February 2014 after he was arrested in a corruption investigation, and that those payments were "partly" bribes.

Atilla's lawyers said the call showed that Zarrab was willing to lie in exchange for leniency.

Defense attorney Victor Rocco raised questions over Zarrab's credibility in his opening statement, saying the case was really about Zarrab's crimes.

"This may support the defense's, thus Mehmet Hakan Atilla's, arguments; which helps support Halkbank's shares", Duygun Kutucu, an analyst at Oyak Securities in Istanbul, said by email.

Reza Zarrab, a Turkish-Iranian gold trader being tried in the United States over a breach of now-lifted US sanctions against Iran, money laundering and other charges, said in a September 2016 jailhouse call that he needed to lie in order to get out of prison, or get a reduced sentence, courthouse reporter Pete Brush said, citing the defense letter in a tweet.

Police detained three of Zarrab's employees on suspicion of delivering documents from the network of Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen to US prosecutors, Anadolu said.

A Turkish-Iranian gold trader, Reza Zarrab, has pleaded guilty to the charges and is now a key witness in the trial. It has infuriated President Tayyip Erdogan, who has cast the trial as an attempt to undermine Turkey and its economy.

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