Turkey seizes USA witness Reza Zarrab's private jet, yacht


Zarrab's testimony likely will win him leniency against charges that otherwise could carry a prison term of up to 130 years.

Turkey has seized a private jet and a luxury yacht owned by Turkish-Iranian gold trader Reza Zarrab as part of the government's latest response to the businessman's guilty plea in a USA trial that implicated President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's close circle.

Erdogan said the trial was a ploy to distract Turkey while Washington hatches plans to strengthen Syrian Kurdish groups Turkey considers to be "terrorists".

In January, Zarrab bragged he had bribed a Bureau of Prisons employee $4,000 so both men would be moved to a wing of the prison with cells that afforded more privacy, Jaber charges. Prosecutors have charged nine people in the case, but only Zarrab, 34, and Atilla, 47, have been arrested by US authorities.

"Frankly, it displays a fundamental misunderstanding of how our justice system works", he said. That's why the case is being brought, and that's the only reason.

Atilla's defense team has said he is "not corrupt".

The lawsuit says the abuse, which included rape, occurred between November 2016 and March 2017, when the men were cellmates at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Lower Manhattan. Zarrab said he worked with Halkbank from 2012 to 2016 to help Iran spend its oil and gas revenue overseas using fraudulent gold and food transactions.

Zarrab hired a private lawyer for Jaber and in September 2016 put money in Jaber's commissary account, the suit says.

He was removed from federal lockup after he struck a cooperation agreement with federal prosecutors and agreed to take the stand against Turkish banker Hakan Atilla, who is now on trial. Zarrab testified on Tuesday under cross-examination by Atilla's attorney, Cathy Fleming, that he and Atilla did not like each other.

The government's star witness in an Iran sanctions case with ties to Turkish President Recep Erdogan sexually brutalized his cellmate in a Manhattan federal lockup, according to a shocking new lawsuit.

But the relationship turned sour when Zarrab started sticking his finger in Jaber's anus, according to the lawsuit filed by Jaber's lawyer Alexei Schacht. He admitted that he understated his revenues on tax returns in Turkey from 2002 to 2016 and procured prostitutes for other people in 2013. On Thursday CNN Turk reported that Erdogan had said Turkey did not violate US sanctions.

As part of the plea deal, he has agreed to give up any illicit profits.

Turkish authorities have detained 17 people linked to Zarrab in an investigation launched after he cooperated with US authorities.