After spending more than a year in a Manhattan jail, Zarrab began cooperating and pleaded guilty - leaving Atilla, the deputy general manager of Halkbank and the only other defendant in USA custody, to stand trial alone.
Reza Zarrab, 34, a fantastically wealthy and politically connected gold trader with dual Turkish-Iranian citizenship, will complete his transformation from lead defendant to star witness when he takes the stand in federal court on Wednesday.
Zarrab said he and Atilla were key players in an worldwide financial scheme to get Iranian oil-sale profits back to that country despite USA sanctions against such transactions. "Both of them are targeting Turkey and the president's government", said Bozdag, also government spokesman, adding that Kilicdaroglu's claims were "slander".
A wealthy Turkish gold dealer stepped into the public eye for the first time Wednesday, testifying at a federal trial here that he paid about 50 million euros in bribes to the former economy minister of Turkey as part of a scheme to evade US sanctions on Iran.
An indictment charged him and eight other Turks in a money-laundering operation to flout USA sanctions aimed at Iran's nuclear ambitions.
Some transactions prohibited by sanctions were disguised as purchases of food, which fell under a humanitarian exemption to the sanctions regime, Denton said.
"He said I am too popular to do the gold trade and I am a person who is very transparent", Zarrab testified.
In his opening statement, Attila's defense attorney, Victor Rocco, attacked Zarrab's credibility, portraying him as a sophisticated con man.
He said he initially lied to USA authorities when he was confronted with crimes.
Zarrab said the agreement with prosecutors came after a failed attempt by his American attorneys to arrange a "prisoner swap" between the United States and Turkey.
Zarrab and numerous eight other named defendants in the case have close ties with the government of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has repeatedly called on the United States to release Zarrab, who was arrested a year ago.
Reza Zarrab, seen here in 2013, has morphed from lead defendant to star witness in a USA trial.
Meanwhile, on November 28, a Turkish prosecutor issued warrants for the detention of two citizens who reportedly are cooperating with USA prosecutors.
The testimony that he gives against banking executive Mehmet Hakan Atilla could make waves from Washington to Ankara in a case that has tested U.S.
"Cooperation was the fastest way to accept respo and get out of jail at once", he said.
"What (Gulen's movement) was not able to achieve here, it is trying to achieve in there (New York)", Bozdag said. He said Atilla and Halkbank's then-general manager, Suleyman Aslan, instructed him how to carry it out. "I'm thinking that I paid bribes in amount of 45 to 50 million euros", he said.