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Turkish Leader Restarted Iran Laundering Plot, Witness Says

  • Zarrab testifies that prime minister in 2014 gave the order
  • Gold trader says he paid bribes to get out of Turkish jail
Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Photographer: Yorgos Karahalis/Bloomberg
Updated on

Turkey’s prime minister personally ordered the resumption of a scheme to launder billions of dollars in Iranian oil revenue and circumvent U.S. sanctions in 2014 after an investigation into the matter was quashed, a government witness testified at a New York trial.

The witness, gold and currency dealer Reza Zarrab, didn’t specify who was prime minister, though he appeared to be referring to Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who occupied the office until late August of 2014 when he became president. Zarrab was testifying about a series of text messages between himself and his lawyer that took place in June of that year. Zarrab’s testimony has previously implicated Erdogan.