Turkish Banker Case Takes Odd Turn as Zarrab Sued for Rape

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December 7, 2017 8:25 pm Published by

Reza Zarrab in 2013.

The trial against a Turkish banker accused of laundering money for Iran took a bizarre turn as the U.S. government’s star witness was sued for rape by a man who says he was a fellow inmate in a New York City jail.

The lawsuit against Reza Zarrab, a gold and currency trader who is cooperating with U.S. prosecutors, was filed Wednesday in state court in Manhattan. The plaintiff is a 62-year-old man from the Ivory Coast who claims he was held in a cell with Zarrab from mid-2016 to March, when Zarrab was transferred to another facility after the man complained.

“The allegations are outrageous and false from a source that is not remotely credible,” Zarrab’s lawyer, Robert Anello, said in an email. The plaintiff’s lawyer, Alexei Schacht, didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

Zarrab is testifying in a high-profile case accusing Turkish banker Mehmet Hakan Atilla of aiding in a years-long plot to help Iran evade U.S. sanctions. After spending more than a year in a federal prison, Zarrab recently agreed to plead guilty and testify against Atilla, a deputy general manager at Turkiye Halk Bankasi AS, in exchange for leniency. 

Zarrab has been on the stand for seven days and is undergoing cross-examination by Atilla’s lawyer. There’s been no mention of the rape allegation in court.

Turkish Banker’s Lawyer Blames Laundering on Others at Halkbank

The plaintiff in the lawsuit says he was extradited last year to New York City from Prague and is being held in a federal lockup in Manhattan while awaiting sentencing. He pleaded guilty in July to a plot to provide weapons including surface-to-air missiles to the Colombian guerrilla group FARC, and is scheduled to learn his punishment on Feb. 1.

The man claims Zarrab befriended him, paid for his lawyer, put money into the man’s jailhouse account and wired money to his family in Africa — and then began talking suggestively. The first of several alleged sexual assaults occurred in November 2016, according to the complaint, claiming battery, assault and emotional distress.


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