December 5, 2017 / 9:14 PM / a year ago

REFILE-Gold trader says he never liked Turkish banker facing trial

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    By Brendan Pierson
    NEW YORK, Dec 5 (Reuters) - A Turkish gold trader testifying
for U.S. prosecutors in the trial of an executive at Turkey's
state-owned Halkbank, who is charged with helping Iran evade
U.S. sanctions, said Tuesday that he and the banker never liked
each other.
    Reza Zarrab, who has pleaded guilty and is cooperating with
U.S. prosecutors in the case, also said he had complained about
Halkbank            deputy general manager Mehmet Hakan Atilla
to Atilla's former superior on multiple occasions.
    The testimony came as Zarrab was cross-examined by one of
Atilla's lawyers, Cathy Fleming.
    Prosecutors have charged nine people in the case, but only
Zarrab, 34, and Atilla, 47, have been arrested by U.S.
    Zarrab previously testified under questioning by a
prosecutor that he worked with Halkbank from 2012 to 2016 to
help Iran spend its oil and gas revenue abroad using fraudulent
gold and food transactions. He said Atilla helped structure
those transactions.
    Halkbank said last week that it had not taken part in any
illegal transactions.
    Under questioning by Fleming, Zarrab said he attended
meetings with Atilla a "handful" of times during that period. He
said he had a "close relationship" with Suleyman Aslan, who was
Halkbank's general manager and Atilla's superior until 2013.
Zarrab said he sometimes complained about Atilla to Aslan.
    Zarrab had testified earlier in the case that he complained
to Aslan when Atilla refused to sign off on a transaction
related to a sham sale of food to Iran.
    Zarrab said he paid bribes to Aslan, repeating his testimony
in direct examination, but never to Atilla. Reuters was not
immediately able to reach Aslan for comment.
    Fleming then asked about Zarrab's efforts to get out of U.S.
jail after his March 2016 arrest. In his opening statement last
week, Victor Rocco, another lawyer for Atilla, told jurors that
Zarrab was motivated to lie in order to get out of jail.
    Zarrab said that after he pleaded guilty in October, he was
released from MDC Brooklyn, a jail in New York.
    Zarrab also recounted hiring former New York City Mayor Rudy
Giuliani and former U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey to
negotiate his release through diplomacy between the United
States and Turkey.
    "You are furious with people in Turkey that it did not work,
isn't that true?" Fleming asked.
    "I don't have any anger toward anybody, ma'am," Zarrab said.
    Zarrab has accused Turkish politicians, including President
Recep Tayyip Erdogan of helping Iran evade U.S. sanctions.
Erdogan on Sunday dismissed the case as a politically motivated
attack on Turkey.             
    CNN Turk on Thursday said Erdogan had said Turkey did not
violate U.S. sanctions.            

 (Reporting By Brendan Pierson in New York; Editing by Alden
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