By Betul Yuruk, Ovunc Kutlu and Sibel Ugurlu
Huseyin Korkmaz, a fugitive and former Turkish police supervisor, who testified in a U.S. case against Halkbank executive Mehmet Hakan Atilla, admitted that he received financial assistance from the FBI.
In his testimony before the court, Korkmaz said he was not employed in the U.S. but he applied for a work permit, which had been approved two weeks ago.
Asked if he received any assistance from the U.S. government, Korkmaz said he didn’t ask for any kind of assistance but accepted having received money from FBI and prosecutor’s office.
“The financial assistance was $50,000 from the FBI plus help with the rent from the prosecutors' office.”
Korkmaz also admitted that the prosecutor’s office gave him a total of $900 in three tranches.
Fake documents and seals of Riza Sarraf
Korkmaz also spoke about the documents found in the Turkish businessman Reza Sarraf’s house and offices during the police search as part of an investigation into Dec. 17-25 in 2013.
He refers to Fetullah Terrorist Organization’s (FETO) judicial coup attempt of Dec. 17-25, which led to the detention of prominent figures.
Korkmaz admitted fake Dubai’s customs documents were found from Sarraf’s office in Istanbul.
He pointed to another document bearing “United Arab Emirates Customs Office” and sent by Atlantis Capital General Trading Company owned by Sarraf.
Korkmaz said he saw a stamp reading “Operetations Admin”, on the seal and thought that document might be fake as there was no such word like “Operetations” in English.
In another document again seized during a police search in Sarraf’s office, Korkmaz said he saw a date “00 Ocak [January] 2013” on the seal of the document which was seen as sent by Dubai Customs Office.
Korkmaz also said they had seized two customs stamps and stacks of blank customs documents during the search in Sarraf’s office.
Atilla’s lawyer Todd Harrison objected to the evidence and the questions asked by the prosecutor.
- Experts testified
A Deutsche Bank employee Douglas Sloan testified in the hearing as an expert.
Sloan informed about the U.S. financial system which allows local banks in different places in the world to send payment orders through an international system.
He explained how the software of the big financial banks like Deutsche Bank intercepted the payment orders sent to people or institutions which are in the U.S.’s blacklist, as part of the sanctions imposed on Iran.
Adam Szubin, the former director of the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), too attended the hearing as an expert.
Failing to give clear responses to Victor Rocco, Atilla’s lawyer, Szubin dodged a question about why Sarraf had not been in the sanctions list of OFAC while it had so many suspicions on Sarraf.
- How did Huseyin Korkmaz flee Turkey?
Korkmaz told how he fled Turkey in August with documents related to Dec. 17 probe in his possession after he was released from prison in February 2016.
He said he obtained some of the documents from a prosecutor and others from a police officer, who joined the Dec. 17 probe, without revealing their names.
"I found a smuggler. I asked him to smuggle me out. I fled through a border crossing,” Korkmaz said during the hearing.
Asked how he was able to obtain another passport, Korkmaz said it was not possible to get a passport in the first country he entered, but he obtained a passport using a different name in a third country he entered.
Korkmaz said he fled to the U.S. after passing through different countries as he thought he would have been extradited to Turkey.
Korkmaz said he contacted the U.S. authorities and they helped him to flee to the U.S. and delivered the documents he had brought with him to the authorities at the airport.
Korkmaz’s illegally taking the secret documents of Turkish Republic abroad to deliver them to the U.S. authorities strengthens claims that the evidence came from Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO)-linked people and that there is a political agenda behind it.
Other FETO fugitives Emre Uslu and Adem Yavuz Arslan were also present at the hearings; which also proves the terrorist group’s link with the U.S. case that started against Sarraf and then later turned against Hakan Atilla.
- Prosecutor defends voice recordings
The prosecutor’s office defended voice recordings it had submitted to the court as evidence and refused to reveal the names of their source.
David Denton, the deputy prosecuting attorney, said the recordings were obtained from police officers, who are believed to be FETO affiliates.
He said one of them would testify as a witness.
- FETO fugitive Canitez among witnesses
Osman Zeki Canitez -- a former bank certified auditor for whom an arrest warrant is out in Turkey over his links to FETO, is now one of the witnesses in the Atilla case.
The warrant was issued as part of Istanbul Public Prosecutor Office's probe into the December 2013 judicial coup bid.
Canitez has also been identified as a ByLock app user, which has been allegedly used by FETO members during last year’s deadly defeated coup.
He is also accused of bringing "documents and evidence illegally from Turkey".
He will now stand as a witness in the case based on these documents and it is expected he would appear before the court during the trial.
On the second day of the hearing, Sarraf had said he accepted all the charges he is accused of and that he agreed to cooperate with the U.S. prosecutors because it was "the best way to be released from jail."
Sarraf was detained last year on charges of violating sanctions against Iran while Turkish banker Mehmet Hakan Atilla was arrested in the U.S. earlier this year on similar sanctions violations charges.Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.