Businessman's US Testimony Stuns Turkey

Trader alleges ministers helped dodge Iran sanctions
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 30, 2017 5:53 AM CST
In this courtroom sketch, Turkish-Iranian gold trader Reza Zarrab, center, testifies before Judge Richard Berman, right, that he helped Iran evade US economic sanctions with help from Turkish banker Mehmet...   (Elizabeth Williams via AP)
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(Newser) – Turkish-Iranian businessman Reza Zarrab was supposed to go on trial this week for conspiring to dodge American sanctions on Iran—but in a turn of events that has made the legal drama grip his homeland, it emerged that he has already pleaded guilty and is now the star witness for the prosecution. In a Manhattan courtroom Wednesday, Zarrab described a web of bribery and corruption reaching to the highest levels of the Turkish government. Here's what you need to know:

  • The witness. Zarrab, a gold-trading tycoon who owned a private jet and 20 homes, was first detained by Turkish authorities as part of a corruption probe in 2013, but was released after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke out against a "judicial coup" and prosecutors were pulled from the case, the BBC reports. But after deciding to visit Disney World with his wife and daughter in March last year, he was arrested by US authorities and accused of money laundering and sanction-busting. He was released from custody Nov. 8, though he could still face prison time.

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