Zarrab willing to lie to return to “cushy” lifestyle – U.S. sanctions case lawyer

Multi-millionaire Iranian-Turkish gold dealer Reza Zarrab is so desperate to return to his previous “cushy lifestyle” that his testimony is suspect, the defence team of Halkbank executive Mehmet Hakan Atilla said on Tuesday.

Zarrab was at the bottom of a “sewer” of lies, according to the testimony quoted by U.S. legal news website Law360.

"(Zarrab) bribed a prison guard," Atilla’s lawyer Victor J. Rocco was quoted as telling the jury. "Old habits die hard. Or maybe they don't die at all."

Zarrab had earlier entered a guilty plea to seven crimes – six relating to the bypassing of sanctions on Iran and one attempt to bribe a prison guard.

Rocco said Zarrab’s accomplice at Halkbank had been Atilla’s boss, Süleyman Arslan. Rocco said Arslan had taken bribes to carry out the transactions and Turkish former Economy Minister Zafer Çağlayan had also taken money from Zarrab.

Rocco said Atilla had not taken any of Zarrab’s money and there was no evidence he had been motivated by greed in any of his actions.

However, the prosecution accused Atilla of helping Zarrab forge documents and help Iran conduct “economic jihad”, Law360 said.

“To conduct this economic jihad, Iran didn't need soldiers,” prosecutor David W. Denton Jr. said. “It needed a banker. It needed Atilla.”