Inmate Accuses Star Witness in Iran Sanctions Case of Rape

Prosecutors entered this photo of Turkish gold trader Reza Zarrab as evidence in a trial of a Turkish banker accused of laundering money for Iran in contravention of U.S. sanctions.

MANHATTAN (CN) – Rape allegations surfaced Wednesday night against the Turkish businessman who is the key to a federal prosecution over bank trades that cheated sanctions against Iran.

Filed with the Manhattan Supreme Court, the 12-page complaint accuses Reza Zarrab of having assaulted Faouzi Jaber multiple times between November 2016 and March 10, 2017, when both men were inmates at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan.

Zarrab, 34, and Jaber, 62, are both awaiting sentencing now after pleading guilty to charges from their respective cases. In July, Jaber pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to provide material support for a terrorist group.

Jaber’s rape allegations, filed by attorney Alexei Schacht, are unrelated to the Iran sanctions case, which remains ongoing against accused co-conspirators after Zarrab took a plea deal in October.

“The allegations are outrageous and false from a source that is not remotely credible,” Zarrab’s attorney, Robert Anello, said Thursday of Jaber’s suit.

A partner at the firm Morvillo Abramowitz, Anello declined in an email to provide additional comment.

Zarrab’s rape accuser is a citizen of the Ivory Coast who was extradited to the United States last year on charges of plotting to arm and launder drug money for the guerrilla terrorist group FARC, short for Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia.

Jaber does not get into these details in his lawsuit, focusing instead on how his alleged friendship with Zarrab at the detention center led to a series of assaults.

Zarrab’s wealth and political connections are well documented, and Jaber says he was initially impressed by such power.

First Zarrab hired a private lawyer for the Ivorian, according to the complaint, then Zarrab had Jaber moved into his cell.

Jaber says Zarrab began depositing money into his commissary account soon after and then assaulted him in the fall of 2016.

The complaint describes several encounters — one of them involving a cucumber — in lurid detail.

Jaber, who describes himself as a frail cancer survivor, says he “felt helpless and unable to fight off the younger and stronger defendant.”

A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York declined to comment on the case. The Bureau of Prisons has not yet responded to an email seeking comment.

Jaber’s lawsuit says Zarrab inspired complaints from several other inmates. Once Jaber found the courage to speak out in March, he says Zarrab was moved to another unit.

Before Zarrab reached the plea deal that has secured his freedom, according to the complaint, he was placed in solitary in April and then transferred to the  Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn.

Still awaiting sentencing on the Iran sanctions charges, Zarrab began testifying last week in the trial of Mehmet Hakan Atilla, a former manager at Turkey’s Halkbank.

Cross-examination of Zarrab, who is married to celebrity Turkish singer Ebru Gundes, began Wednesday.

Zarrab’s testimony last week assigned blame for the money laundering to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who was prime minister at the time of the trades.

A day after Zarrab testified that it was Erdogan who ordered billions in transactions to Iran, prosecutors in Turkey seized Zarrab’s assets as well as those of his family.

As part of his Oct. 26 guilty plea to sanctions violations, Zarrab also admitted to having bribed a guard while in jail to access contraband items like alcohol and the guard’s cellphone.

No allegations of sexual misconduct have arisen in Zarrab’s testimony. On Monday attorneys for Atilla brandished other evidence against Zarrab from his time in jail. Descriptions of the jailhouse recordings are said to show Zarrab claiming he would lie on the witness stand to win a reduced sentence.

%d bloggers like this: