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Adam Klasfeld @KlasfeldReports
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Good morning, Reza Zarrab case watchers, and good evening to those following from Turkey. The key witness - Zarrab - testifies today. Watch this space for a thread with updates, and catch the background here:…
An FBI interpreter was just qualified as an English-Turkish translation expert.
(One quick caveat on tweet starting thread: Anything can happen during a trial. Zarrab is *expected* to testify today. I'll update if anything changes on that front.)
Amusing: Defense attorney grills FBI interpreter on homonyms, words spelled the same with different meanings. She illustrates the concept with this Groucho Marx skit about shooting an elephant
The grammar stickler in me says that's not quite an example of a homonym, but the point is clear. Seems to be building to an error in translation - or at least implant the idea in jury's mind.
The buildup seems to have been underwhelming: The point was, some of the transcripts were edited, and the witness claims those corrections were largely typographical. We'll see if anything comes of it later.
Up now: Another FBI linguist - this one an expert in Farsi and German.
FBI linguist testimony ends after prosecutor enters translations into evidence subject to connect. Prosecutors then request a two-minute recess, suggesting that Zarrab's up next. This is just speculation though.
Reza Zarrab takes the stand for the prosecution. Reposting the old coverage from yesterday again as a scene-setter.…
Zarrab is wearing tan prison scrubs. He stands to be sworn into his testimony.
Prosecution goes through Zarrab's bio: His Turkish and Macedonian citizenship, his age (34), marriage and children. Testimony always starts off with the preliminaries.
Zarrab is now describing his arrest on a family trip taking his daughter to Disneyland.
"I pleaded guilty to 7 crimes. Defrauding the United States. IEEPA violations. Money laundering. Bank fraud. Conspiracy to commit bank fraud. Paying bribe to a federal prison guard." -Zarrab
I seem to have missed one count he mentioned: Conspiracy to commit money laundering.
"Prosecutor: Are you currently in the custody of the [BOP]? Zarrab: Yes, sir." Denies reports that he's in a hotel, free to come and go as he pleases.
Zarrab on his bribery count from prison: "I bribed the prison guard to bring me alcohol and to let me use his cell phone." He does not mention the defense attorney's other allegations from yesterday. That he also bribed for access to drugs and women.
Q: Paraphrase: (Do you see another participant in the scheme?) A: "He's at the defense table. ... He's wearing a grey suit. He has a dark red tie." Judge: The record will reflect that [Zarrab] has identified Mr. Atilla?"
Typo there: No question mark on Judge Berman's statement.
Zarrab talking about his many trades: foreign exchange, shipping, furniture production, building construction. Also did the tea trade with his father in Dubai.
(Obviously, he's also a gold trader, as all the coverage around him notes.)
Zarrab now testifying about trying to open an account at Aktif Bank in Turkey. His first attempt was unsuccessful. Q: Why? Zarrab: "In my first attempt, Aktif Bank told me that customers that work with Iran need a special permission to open an account."
After meeting with the general manager, Zarrab testifies, he was able to get an Aktif Bank account.
Zarrab: Account started with 5 to 10 million Euros
(That was the volume of transactions per day.)
Zarrab now testifying about his meeting with the Central Bank of Iran.
Q: Were you able to ultimately reach an agreement to provide financial services to the Central Bank of Iran?
Zarrab: Yes, sir.
Zarrab is now testifying about his connection to former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad.
Anyone recognize the name Sharouf Najev Sadeh (sp?) - CEO of Melat Exchange?
Will have more on that name later. Testimony turned to how Iranian exchange offices work.
Zarrab says he met with Sarmayeh Bank (also Iranian) representative Mohammed Reza Rejai (sp?) in Azerbaijan in either 2010 and 2011. Zarrab said he didn't work with him at this point.
A side note: Thank you to all of my followers giving me tips, leads and backgrounds. Very helpful so please keep it up.
Zarrab describes his falling out with Aktifbank.

Zarrab: “Aktifbank was working directly with the Iranians and I was eliminated.”

Q: Was Aktifbank as a significant part of your income?
A: Absolutely, yes.
Testimony turns to Zarrab's relationship with Halkbank.
Zarrab said that this began in 2012, though his connections started earlier, he says.
I need more help with the name: This time of a Turkish jeweler: Ahmed Alajaji (Can anyone confirm the spelling?). Zarrab says this man proposed the gold-exportation system of putting Iranian proceeds in Halkbank.
Zarrab: “Because my wife was a famous artist in Turkey, I was a person who was in the public eye all the time.”
He mentioned his famous wife Ebru Gundes as the reason why bank manager Suleyman Aslan wouldn't work with him: Zarrab says he was too visible for Aslan.
So Zarrab says he reached out to Turkish economic minister Zafer Çağlayan:

Q: Why did you contact [Zafer Çağlayan] after Aslan turned you down?

A: Because he was the economy minister of the Republic of Turkey.
Just a quick note: The reason I'm not tweeting right now is that Zarrab is reading from an exhibit of what he paid to Zafer Çağlayan at Halkbank. The testimony is math. Upshot coming up.
Zarrab: "I am thinking that I paid bribe [to Çağlayan] in the amount of 45 to 50 million euros."
And with that whopper, time to eat everyone. Lunch break.
Zarrab is back on the witness stand. Testimony is about to get started again soon.
I notice folks getting a bit impatient. "Soon" is a relative term. Zarrab's still sitting there. Standby.
And we're off.
Q: What form did those payments [to Caglayan] take?
A: In cash, in valuable items, and in bank-wire transfers.

Q: Any to Caglayan’s family?
A: There were sir.
Prosecutor wants to introduce an alleged bank receipt Caglayan's sibling for more than 2.4 million in Turkish lira from profit on the Iranian trade into evidence. Defense objects as hearsay. Judge Berman allows.
Testimony turns to NIOC -- National Iranian Oil Company
Zarrab is testifying about a "front company" for NIOC that sounds like it's called NICU... anyone recognize?
Zarrab is about to diagram how a gold trade works on a poster board. He stepped off the witness stand to draw it.
(Note: I don't know if this visual will become available to the press. Will inquire and if so, tweet it out.)
Crowdsourcing help need needed with names of two more companies that Zarrab said are tied to Halkbank: They sound like "Tukresh" and "Botosh"
Dozens are people are unanimous with this one immediately: Tupras and Botas. I'll work to confirm separately, and thanks.
Observation: Zarrab appears relaxed and authoritative as he draws his diagrams for the jury. He would like like he's leading a company board meeting, if he weren't wearing a prison uniform in a U.S. federal court.
*look like
The diagram mapping out his gold transactions appears quite complicated. To give an idea: The placard goes from his waist to above his head, and he's drawing from the top to the bottom on both sides. Zarrab estimates they are a “minimum of 10” transactions.
Prosecutor entered it into evidence, and so it should become available to the press and public. Drawing session is over. Zarrab is back onto the witness stand.
Court's taking a 5-minute recess.
We're back. New evidence entered into the record about a phone call with Suleyman Aslan's assistant secretary.
Aslan, a general manager at Halkbank, is charged separately in the same case, but is not on trial now.…
About the phone conversations: These are transcripts, not audio. A new transcript entered into evidence, this one of Zarrab's convo with Abdullah Happani, whom he described as second person in charge of one of his companies.
From my Daily Beast colleague
PROSECUTOR: How much did you withdraw from Halkbank?
ZARRAB: A few billion.

JUDGE: In what?
A: Euros.
Q: The few billion you talked about, was that used to purchase gold?
A: The few billion euros was the money that we fulfilled the int’l money orders that we received from Iranians that we disguised as gold trade.
He said that he discussed this with Aslan, Atilla and others.
That's it for the day. I'll see my U.S. followers first thing on Thursday morning. Or my Turkish followers Thursday late afternoon / night.
Zarrab is expected to testify through Friday. This is my DEVELOPING story on @CourthouseNews - obviously, much more on my Twitter feed to be folded in in future updates.…
Bonus Tweet Here: Judge Berman is discussing with Zarrab and the jury gone whether Zarrab can appear in civilian clothes.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Sid Kamaraju: We can certainly ask Mr. Zarrab [if he wishes to wear regular clothes].
So tomorrow, maybe no more prison uniform?
Worth wondering: Why is Zarrab wearing a prison uniform at all? U.S. Bureau of Prisons website shows he was released on Nov. 8.
Prosecutor asked Zarrab about his status today: Zarrab insisted he is still in U.S. federal custody, denied rumors that he's staying in a hotel and free to come and go as he pleases. More information sure to come to light soon.
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