Turkish-Iranian gold trader Reza Zarrab, who agreed to cooperate with prosecutors to not stand trial in the United States over a breach of now-lifted US sanctions on Iran, money laundering and other charges, was accused late Thursday by an ex-cellmate in his early 60s of sexual assault in a Manhattan prison.
"I came face to face with an individual who was trying to take my life, and he had pulled a knife on me, and I was about to lose my life", Zarrab told a NY jury on Thursday.
Zarrab, 34, pleaded guilty to the conspiracy in October and has cooperated, providing evidence to support charges against Atilla and other individuals.
Far away from his birthplace of Iran, Zarrab has made powerful enemies in his adopted country of Turkey, where his pop-star wife and other members of his family remain.
Zarrab has testified that he bribed Turkey's former economy minister and that Erdoğan approved of a scheme to help Iran avoid USA and United Kingdom sanctions.
USA prosecutors have charged nine people in the case with conspiring to help Iran evade sanctions. Zarrab said 18 or 19 individuals - some of whom he doesn't know - had their assets seized after he began testifying last week.
He said he also bribed him with a watch and a piano. He said prosecutors told him he would not be charged for those crimes because they were outside USA jurisdiction. He said Zarrab bragged that he was rich and could hire a private lawyer for Jaber to help him win his criminal case.
Afterward, Zarrab was removed from prison and has remained since in the custody of Federal Bureau of Investigation agents, though he has not said where.
"How did you get out of those charges?" Fleming asked. "I don't have any anger toward anybody, ma'am", Zarrab said.
Zarrab said he spoke about that idea with his attorney, "possibly" in 2014.
And before Zarrab was revealed to be a government cooperator, Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister in November called him a "hostage" of the U.S. government.
Turkish authorities have detained 17 people linked to Zarrab in an investigation launched after he cooperated with USA authorities and agreed to testify in the case. He said he had a "close relationship" with Suleyman Aslan, who was Halkbank's general manager and Atilla's superior until 2013.
Zarrab testified on Tuesday that in return for his guilty plea prosecutors said he would not be charged with lying to law enforcement officers after his arrest and smoking synthetic marijuana in jail.
Cohen will continue his testimony Friday. Proceedings ended today with testimony from Wilmer Hale attorney David Cohen, a former deputy director for the CIA who previously worked as the undersecretary for the Treasury Department's Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence.
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