Turkey Seizes Assets of Reza Zarrab, Witness in Sanctions-Evasion Case

The case involving Mr. Zarrab and the Turkish bank executive on trial, Mehmet Hakan Atilla, and seven other defendants who remain at large, has raised tensions between Turkey and the United States. Turkish officials have said the case is based on fabricated evidence and is a politically motivated plot to undermine the country’s economy and its leader, Mr. Erdogan, who is now president.

In a speech in Istanbul, Turkey’s prime minister, Binali Yildirim, on Friday called for Mr. Zarrab to reverse his decision to cooperate with the American authorities.

“God willing, he will turn back from this mistake,” Mr. Yildirim said.

Turkish state and pro-government media outlets have not reported on key developments in the trial, including Mr. Zarrab’s testimony this week implicating Mr. Erdogan and his account of paying tens of millions of dollars in bribes to Zafer Caglayan when he was the country’s economy minister, as part of the scheme. Mr. Caglayan has also been charged in the case and is one of the defendants not in custody.


President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey has condemned the trial and has tried to persuade American officials to drop it the case.

Umit Bektas/Reuters

The Turkish state news agency, however, was the first to report on Friday’s court order to confiscate all of the assets of Mr. Zarrab and his family, including his wife, Ebru Gundes, a famous Turkish pop singer.

Asked about the Turkish order to seize Mr. Zarrab’s assets, his lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, said, “It would be inappropriate to comment until after the trial of Mr. Atilla is completed.” Prosecutors had no comment.

Mr. Zarrab testified in court for a third day on Friday, offering more details about the oil-for-gold scheme. He also described how the conspirators disguised some of their transfers of Iranian oil proceeds as food sales.

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“Were you actively sending food?” a prosecutor, Sidhardha Kamaraju, asked Mr. Zarrab.

“You mean physically, food?


“No, I never sent food, physically,” Mr. Zarrab said.

Follow Benjamin Weiser on Twitter: @BenWeiserNYT

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