Halkbank is now fugitive from charges & is in contempt

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Halkbank is now fugitive from charges & is in contempt

Postby seemslikeadream » Tue Oct 22, 2019 2:17 pm

Adam Klasfeld

Halkbank “is now a fugitive from the charges and is in contempt,” prosecutor told Judge Berman this morning.

More in a bit for @CourthouseNews.



Judge Berman began proceedings today by noting that Hakan Attila has been appointed to the head of the Istanbul stock exchange.

“I suppose that’s one way of integrating back into society someone who has been convicted of financial wrongdoing,” Berman quipped dryly.


Berman said that he was "somewhat taken aback" by the King & Spalding letter claiming the firm was not authorized to accept service for Halkbank, whom they represented for "years."

(That appears to be a new detail.)


AUSA Lockard then confirmed K&S represented Halkbank "since at least Oct. 2017.

The Turkish state-run bank does not have employees or offices in the United States, he noted, before pointing out statements from Erdogan and others attacking the case.

Lockard also noted reports that Erdogan discussed the Halkbank case with @VP Mike Pence and @SecPompeo on Oct. 17.

"Of course , those efforts are consistent with other" reports of attempted political influence by Ankara since the case began, the prosecutor added.

Judge Berman instructed prosecutors to write up a draft order requesting contempt based on the points they made in court.

"It does seem appropriate based on your comments," he said.

Prosecutors want to give Halkbank a chance to cure contempt by going to court next time.

Taking note of the fact that the defense table was empty all hearing, Judge Berman said: "Of course, the record reflects that no one has appeared today on behalf of Halkbank."

Look out for my story soon @CourthouseNews.
https://twitter.com/KlasfeldReports/sta ... 6506701825



Adam Klasfeld

NEW: BigLaw firm King & Spalding, which registered as an agent for the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs under FARA in 2017, claims it's not authorized to accept service for the now-indicted Halkbank, which the firm represented during the DOJ investigation.
Image
9:13 AM - 21 Oct 2019

Reminder: Halkbank's former Trump-connected lobbyist Ballard Partners terminated its lucrative contract the day after the Turkish state-run bank's indictment.

More context: King & Spalding advises Trump's real estate empire, and its ties to the administration have been the subject of multiple news reports.

From June 2017

Trump Picks Christopher Wray to Be F.B.I. Director
JUNE 7, 2017

Christopher Wray, then assistant attorney general, in 2005. Lawrence Jackson/Associated Press
The president revealed his decision in an early-morning tweet without alerting members of Congress in advance. It came on the eve of a blockbuster congressional hearing scheduled for Thursday in which James B. Comey, the F.B.I. director he ousted abruptly last month, was to testify about what he interpreted as improper attempts by Mr. Trump to pressure him.
The selection may have been an attempt to inject credibility into an investigation of his campaign’s possible ties with Russia, one that has been rocked by accusations of presidential tampering.

Mr. Wray is a safe, mainstream pick from a president who at one point was considering politicians for a job that has historically been kept outside of partisanship. A former assistant attorney general overseeing the Justice Department’s criminal division under President George W. Bush, Mr. Wray is likely to allay the fears of F.B.I. agents who worried that Mr. Trump would try to weaken or politicize the F.B.I.

“Christopher Wray knows the Justice Department, is not a politician, and has a background in federal law enforcement,” Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Democrat of Rhode Island and a member of the Judiciary Committee, said in a statement, calling those his “minimum qualifications” for the next agency director. “Above all, he will need to show his commitment to protecting the bureau’s independence. That independence is more important than ever given the inevitable conflicts with the interests of the man who sits in the Oval Office.”

Those concerns were only stoked on Wednesday with the release of prepared testimony by Mr. Comey in which he recounted how Mr. Trump at one point asked him to shut down the bureau’s investigation of Michael T. Flynn, his former national security adviser, whose ties with Russia are under investigation. Mr. Comey also said that the president had repeatedly pressed for him to say publicly that Mr. Trump was not personally under investigation.

“In light of the president’s constant efforts to block the truth,” said Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the minority leader, “the nomination of Christopher Wray should be subject to the utmost scrutiny.”

Some civil liberties organizations expressed deep reservations about Mr. Wray, a litigation partner at King & Spalding, a law firm that advises Mr. Trump’s family real estate empire.

“Christopher Wray’s firm’s legal work for the Trump family, his history of partisan activity, as well as his history of defending Trump’s transition director during a criminal scandal makes us question his ability to lead the F.B.I. with the independence, evenhanded judgment, and commitment to the rule of law that the agency deserves,” said Faiz Shakir, the national political director of the American Civil Liberties Union, referring to Mr. Christie and the Bridgegate case.

Mr. Shakir said Mr. Wray would also have to “come clean about his role” in legal justifications for the use of torture during the Bush administration after the 9/11 attacks.

Mr. Wray, two administration officials said, is a hybrid selection for Mr. Trump: He is a seasoned criminal lawyer who bonded with Mr. Christie when both were young lawyers in the Justice Department, and a highly regarded criminal defense lawyer who represented Mr. Christie in the aftermath of the scandal over traffic jams that rocked his governorship.

That his political skills were honed in the crucible of scandal gave him an edge over the other finalist, John S. Pistole, a former deputy director of the F.B.I. and head of the Transportation Security Administration, the officials said. He managed to soothe and counsel the volatile Mr. Christie.

“Chris is a wonderful choice to lead the F.B.I. who cares deeply about the institution and already has strong relationships with the F.B.I.,” Alice Fisher, who followed Mr. Wray as chief of the Justice Department criminal division and was also interviewed to be F.B.I. director, wrote in an email. “His background at the helm of the criminal division offered an excellent experience working on national security, white-collar crime and a range of federal crimes.”

The pick caps an extraordinary period in which Mr. Trump has been buffeted by his own shifting explanations for why he dismissed Mr. Comey, allegations that he shared highly classified information with top Russian officials in the Oval Office and the naming of a special counsel to oversee the investigation into his campaign’s possible ties with Moscow.

The decision was being closely watched for signals about how the president will forge ahead amid the swirl of developments set off by Mr. Comey’s dismissal. Some Democrats have said impeachment proceedings should begin against him.

Mr. Trump met Tuesday with his two finalists, Mr. Wray and Mr. Pistole, the White House spokesman, Sean Spicer, said. The president had hoped to quickly pick a replacement for Mr. Comey before he embarked on his nine-day overseas trip in mid-May but was dissuaded from doing so by many of his top advisers, including the chief of staff, Reince Priebus, and Donald F. McGahn II, the White House counsel.

Mr. Wray played a pivotal role in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, providing oversight of Justice Department operations as the country adjusted to a new reality and working alongside Mr. Comey and Robert S. Mueller III, then the F.B.I. director and now a special counsel overseeing the Russia investigation. As head of the criminal division from 2003 to 2005, Mr. Wray directed efforts to deal with fraud scandals plaguing the corporate world.

Mr. Trump, who fired Mr. Comey without having put in motion a plan to find his successor, conducted a lengthy search, at one point zeroing in on Joseph I. Lieberman, the former Democratic senator and vice-presidential nominee, as a preferred finalist, even as he considered F.B.I. veterans including Adam S. Lee, the special agent in charge of the bureau’s Richmond, Va., field office; Richard A. McFeely, a former senior official; and Andrew G. McCabe, the acting director. Mr. Lieberman later withdrew from consideration.

“I’m encouraged that President Trump has nominated someone with significant federal law enforcement experience, rather than a career in partisan politics, as was rumored over the past several weeks,” said Senator Chris Coons, Democrat of Delaware and a member of the Judiciary panel.

It was during an interview with one of the prospective candidates at the White House that Mr. Trump received word of the appointment of Mr. Mueller as special counsel. Mr. Mueller is empowered to investigate a broad range of topics related to the Russia inquiry, potentially including the president’s own interactions with Mr. Comey.

While Mr. Wray’s reputation is not as a partisan operative, he has donated consistently to Republican candidates in recent years. Over the past decade, he has contributed at least $35,000 to Republican candidates or committees, according to data maintained by the Federal Election Commission. He did not do so during the 2016 election, but he has donated to Republican presidential nominees, including $2,300 to support Senator John McCain of Arizona in 2008 and $7,500 to back Mitt Romney in 2012.

Before joining the leadership of the Justice Department in Washington in 2001 as an associate deputy attorney general, Mr. Wray served as a federal prosecutor in Atlanta. He graduated from Yale University in 1989 and earned his law degree in 1992 from Yale Law School.

Republicans praised Mr. Trump’s choice even as they expressed surprise about the way in which it was unveiled.

“I learned about it from Twitter,” Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa and chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said in a corridor in the Capitol. “But then, I learn a lot of things about the president from Twitter.”

Glenn Thrush reported from Cincinnati, and Julie Hirschfeld Davis from Washington. Adam Goldman and Robert Pear contributed reporting from Washington.
http://archive.is/tQMDu


seemslikeadream » Thu Oct 17, 2019 7:00 am wrote:
Turkey assault in northeast Syria displaced 300,000: Monitor

AFP, BeirutThursday, 17 October 2019


Turkey’s week-old offensive against Kurdish-controlled areas of northeastern Syria has displaced more than 300,000 people, a war monitor said Thursday.

“More than 300,000 civilians have been displaced since the start of the offensive,” Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said.

The Turkish operation comes after US President Donald Trump announced the withdrawal of US forces from northeastern Syria, which is currently administered by the Kurdish-led Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (NES), often referred to as Rojava.

Trump’s move was seen by critics as an abandonment of Kurdish forces which had been the key ally in the fight against ISIS.

Last Update: Thursday, 17 October 2019 KSA 09:51 - GMT 06:51
https://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/m ... nitor.html




random facts girl.

Ohai, Turkey.

You own Halkbank? And they're charged with being party to transnational organized crime and sanctions evasion?

I don't think adding ethnic cleansing to that list is gonna help any...


https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdny/pr/tu ... ion-dollar
Image
2:55 PM - 15 Oct 2019

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of New York
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, October 15, 2019
Turkish Bank Charged In Manhattan Federal Court For Its Participation In A Multibillion-Dollar Iranian Sanctions Evasion Scheme

Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, John C. Demers, the Assistant Attorney General for National Security, and William F. Sweeney Jr., the Assistant Director in Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), announced that TÜRKİYE HALK BANKASI A.S., a/k/a “Halkbank,” was charged today in a six-count Indictment with fraud, money laundering, and sanctions offenses related to the bank’s participation in a multibillion-dollar scheme to evade U.S. sanctions on Iran. The case is assigned to United States District Judge Richard M. Berman.

U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman stated: “The facts that emerged at the full, fair, and public trial of Halkbank’s deputy general manager, which culminated in a jury’s January 2018 guilty verdict against him, illustrated senior Halkbank management’s participation in this brazen scheme to circumvent our nation’s Iran sanctions regime. As alleged in today’s indictment, Halkbank’s systemic participation in the illicit movement of billions of dollars’ worth of Iranian oil revenue was designed and executed by senior bank officials. The bank’s audacious conduct was supported and protected by high-ranking Turkish government officials, some of whom received millions of dollars in bribes to promote and protect the scheme. Halkbank will now have to answer for its conduct in an American court.”

Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers said: “Halkbank, a Turkish state-owned bank, allegedly conspired to undermine the United States Iran sanctions regime by illegally giving Iran access to billions of dollars’ worth of funds, all while deceiving U.S. regulators about the scheme. This is one of the most serious Iran sanctions violations we have seen, and no business should profit from evading our laws or risking our national security.”

FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William F. Sweeney Jr. said: “As we allege today, Halkbank, a Turkish financial institution whose majority shareholder is the government of Turkey, willfully engaged in deceptive activities designed to evade U.S. sanctions against Iran. Halkbank illegally facilitated the illicit transfer of billions of dollars to benefit Iran, and for far too long the bank and its leaders willfully deceived the United States to shield their actions from scrutiny. That deception ends today. The FBI will aggressively pursue those who intentionally violate U.S. sanctions laws and attempt to undercut our national security.”

According to the allegations in the Indictment, returned today in Manhattan federal court[1]:

From approximately 2012, up to and including approximately 2016, TÜRKİYE HALK BANKASI A.S. (“Halkbank”) was a foreign financial institution organized under the laws of and headquartered in Turkey. The majority of Halkbank’s shares are owned by the Government of Turkey. Halkbank and its officers, agents, and co-conspirators directly and indirectly used money service businesses and front companies in Iran, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and elsewhere to violate and to evade and avoid prohibitions against Iran’s access to the U.S. financial system, restrictions on the use of proceeds of Iranian oil and gas sales, and restrictions on the supply of gold to the Government of Iran and to Iranian entities and persons. Halkbank knowingly facilitated the scheme, participated in the design of fraudulent transactions intended to deceive U.S. regulators and foreign banks, and lied to U.S. regulators about Halkbank’s involvement.

High-ranking government officials in Iran and Turkey participated in and protected this scheme. Some officials received bribes worth tens of millions of dollars paid from the proceeds of the scheme so that they would promote the scheme, protect the participants, and help to shield the scheme from the scrutiny of U.S. regulators.

The proceeds of Iran’s sale of oil and gas to Turkey’s national oil company and gas company, among others, were deposited at Halkbank, in accounts in the names of the Central Bank of Iran, the National Iranian Oil Company (“NIOC”), and the National Iranian Gas Company. During the relevant time period, Halkbank was the sole repository of proceeds from the sale of Iranian oil by NIOC to Turkey. Because of U.S. sanctions against Iran and the anti-money laundering policies of U.S. banks, it was difficult for Iran to access these funds in order to transfer them back to Iran or to use them for international financial transfers for the benefit of Iranian government agencies and banks. As of in or about 2012, billions of dollars’ worth of funds had accumulated in NIOC and the Central Bank of Iran’s accounts at Halkbank.

Halkbank participated in several types of illicit transactions for the benefit of Iran that, if discovered, would have exposed the bank to sanctions under U.S. law, including (i) allowing the proceeds of sales of Iranian oil and gas deposited at Halkbank to be used to buy gold for the benefit of the Government of Iran; (ii) allowing the proceeds of sales of Iranian oil and gas deposited at Halkbank to be used to buy gold that was not exported to Iran, in violation of the so-called “bilateral trade” rule; and (iii) facilitating transactions fraudulently designed to appear to be purchases of food and medicine by Iranian customers, in order to appear to fall within the so-called “humanitarian exception” to certain sanctions against the Government of Iran, when in fact no purchases of food or medicine actually occurred. Through these methods, Halkbank illicitly transferred approximately $20 billion worth of otherwise restricted Iranian funds.

Senior Halkbank officers, acting within the scope of their employment and for the benefit of Halkbank, concealed the true nature of these transactions from officials with the U.S. Department of the Treasury so that Halkbank could supply billions of dollars’ worth of services to the Government of Iran without risking being sanctioned by the United States and losing its ability to hold correspondent accounts with U.S. financial institutions.

The purpose and effect of the scheme in which Halkbank participated was to create a pool of Iranian oil funds in Turkey and the United Arab Emirates held in the names of front companies, which concealed the funds’ Iranian nexus. From there, the funds were used to make international payments on behalf of the Government of Iran and Iranian banks, including transfers in U.S. dollars that passed through the U.S. financial system in violation of U.S. sanctions laws.

* * *

Halkbank is charged with (1) conspiracy to defraud the United States, (2) conspiracy to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (“IEEPA”), (3) bank fraud, (4) conspiracy to commit bank fraud, (5) money laundering, and (6) conspiracy to commit money laundering.

The Office has previously charged nine individual defendants, including bank employees, the former Turkish Minister of the Economy, and other participants in the scheme. See S4 15 Cr. 867 (RMB). On October 26, 2017, Reza Zarrab pled guilty to the seven counts with which he was charged. On January 3, 2018, a jury convicted former Halkbank deputy general manager Memet Hakkan Atilla of five of the six counts with which he was charged, following a five-week jury trial. The remaining individual defendants are fugitives.

Mr. Berman praised the outstanding investigative work of the FBI and its New York Field Office, Counterintelligence Division, and the Department of Justice, National Security Division, Counterintelligence and Export Control Section.

This case is being handled by the Office’s Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit and Money Laundering and Transnational Criminal Enterprises Unit. Assistant United States Attorneys Michael D. Lockard, Sidhardha Kamaraju, David W. Denton Jr., Jonathan Rebold, and Kiersten Fletcher are in charge of the prosecution.

The charges contained in the Indictment are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.


[1] As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Indictment and the descriptions of the Indictment constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.
https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdny/pr/tu ... ion-dollar


President Trump gives himself an A+ for his handling of Syria:

“That has nothing to do with us,” Mr. Trump said, all but washing his hands of the Kurdish fighters who have fought alongside American troops against the Islamic State for years but have now been left to fend for themselves. “The Kurds know how to fight, and, as I said, they’re not angels, they’re not angels,” he said.

Mr. Trump insisted his handling of the matter had been “strategically brilliant” and minimized concerns for the Kurds, implying that they allied with the United States only out of their own self-interest. “We paid a lot of money for them to fight with us,” he said. Echoing Mr. Erdogan’s talking points, Mr. Trump compared one faction of the Kurds to the Islamic State and he asserted that Kurds intentionally freed some Islamic State prisoners to create a backlash for him. “Probably the Kurds let go to make a little bit stronger political impact,” he said.

https://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/ ... no-angels/


seemslikeadream » Wed Oct 16, 2019 8:19 pm wrote:
Turkey's govt-owned bank Halkbank paid $2M+ to Trump-tied foreign agents & lobbyists since its deputy chief was arrested over a money laundering scheme with Rudy Giuliani's client allegedly funneling Iran millions of dollars to secretly evade sanctions http://crp.org/bplob
https://twitter.com/annalecta/status/11 ... 5659845632

Federal investigation of Rudy Giuliani includes counterintelligence probe
https://www.cnn.com/2019/10/16/politics ... index.html

Trump-Erdogan Call Led to Lengthy Quest to Avoid Halkbank Trial
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles ... bank-trial

Turkish bank tied to Giuliani client indicted in money laundering scheme
A Turkish bank known as Halkbank has been charged in a 6-count indictment for "fraud, money laundering, and sanctions offenses related to the bank’s participation in a multibillion-dollar scheme to evade U.S. sanctions on Iran," federal prosecutors in New York announced on Tuesday.
Why it matters: Bloomberg reported last week that in 2017, President Trump pressed former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to help convince the Justice Department to drop a sanctions evasion case against an Iranian-Turkish gold trader named Reza Zarrab — a client of Rudy Giuliani's whose case was a high priority for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Zarrab later pleaded guilty and testified against the CEO of Halkbank, alleging that "Erdogan knew of and supported the laundering effort on behalf of Iran."
https://www.axios.com/halkbank-turkish- ... 89461.html



Live Updates: Trump Says Kurds Are 'Not Angels' as House Overwhelmingly Condemns Syria Withdrawal
Russian troops move into Syrian territory abandoned by U.S. ■ Erdogan: 'There will be no ceasefire ... We are not worried about any sanctions' ■ Assad forces make territorial gains near Manbij following pact with Kurds ■ More than 190,000 people displaced

Haaretz, DPA, The Associated Press and Reuters Oct 16, 2019 11:47 PM

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Baku, Azerbaijan, Octber 14, 2019.,AP
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo are set to leave for Ankara Wednesday to discuss a ceasefire in northeast Syria, as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vows to press ahead with Tukey's offensive despite American sanctions and growing international criticism.

"They say 'declare a ceasefire'. We will never declare a ceasefire," Erdogan told reporters after a visit to Azerbaijan. "They are pressuring us to stop the operation. They are announcing sanctions. Our goal is clear. We are not worried about any sanctions." The Turkish president also made clear he does not intend to meet Pence or Pompeo when they arrive in Turkey, but later clarified he would meet the U.S. vice president.

Haaretz Weekly Ep. 44Haaretz

U.S. President Donald Trump's unexpected decision to withhold protection from Syria's Kurds after a phone call with Erdogan a week ago swiftly upended five years of U.S. policy on Syria. As well as clearing the way for the Turkish incursion, the U.S. withdrawal gives a free hand to Syrian President Bashar Assad and his Russian and Iranian allies in the world's deadliest ongoing war.

02.00 A.M. Assad forces enter Kobane

Syrian forces on Wednesday night rolled into the strategic border town of Kobani, blocking one path for the Turkish military to establish a "safe zone" free of Syrian Kurdish fighters along the frontier as part of its week-old offensive.

The seizure of Kobani by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad also pointed to a dramatic shift in northeastern Syria: The town was where the United States military and Kurdish fighters first united to defeat the Islamic State group four years ago and holds powerful symbolism for Syrian Kurds and their ambitions of self-rule.

The convoys of government forces drove into Kobani after dark, a resident said. The resident, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal, was one of the few remaining amid fears of a Turkish attack on the town. Syria's state-run media confirmed its troops entered the town. (AP)

00.42 P.M. White House releases Trump letter to Erdogan

U.S. President Donald Trump warned Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan in a letter about Turkey's incursion into Syria, "Don't be a tough guy" and "Don't be a fool!" The October 9 letter was released by the White House on Wednesday as Trump battled to control the political damage following his decision to pull U.S. troops out of northern Syria.

"Let's work out a good deal!" Trump said. "You don't want to be responsible for slaughtering thousands of people, and I don't want to be responsible for destroying the Turkish economy - and I will."

Trump had the letter released to bolster his view that he did not give Turkey a green light to invade Syria. "I have worked hard to solve some of your problems. Don't let the world down. You can make a great deal," said Trump in the letter. (Reuters)

11:23 P.M. Pelosi says Trump had 'meltdown' over House vote on Syria

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Democratic leaders' White House meeting was cut short after Republican President Donald Trump had a "meltdown" over a House of Representatives vote condemning his Syria withdrawal. Trump was insulting to Pelosi and the meeting deteriorated into a diatribe by Trump, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told reporters.

"What we witnessed on the part of the president was a meltdown. Sad to say," Pelosi told reporters as she and the other Democrats emerged from the White House.

The Democratic leader said Trump had a temper tantrum because of the number of Republicans who joined Democrats to vote for a resolution condemning the president's decision to withdraw U.S. forces from northeastern Syria, clearing the way for Turkey's offensive against U.S.-allied Syrian Kurds.(Reuters)

10:22 P.M. House of Representatives passes bipartisan resolution condemning Syria withdrawal, report says

The House of Representatives approved a bipartisan resolution to condemn U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to pull out American troops from Syria, the New York Times reported on Wednesday evening.

The resolution, which passed on a vote of 354-60, came as Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo are set to depart for Ankara to push for a cease-fire in the Turkish offensive against Syrian Kurds in the country's northeast.

“At President Trump’s hands, American leadership has been laid low, and American foreign policy has become nothing more than a tool to advance his own interests,” said Representative Eliot L. Engel of New York, the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee who introduced the largely symbolic bill to congress. “Today we make clear that the Congress is a coequal branch of government and we want nothing to do with this disastrous policy.”

9:11 P.M. U.S.-led coalition says forces have left Syrian cities of Raqqa, Tabqah, Lafarge factory

Syrian government forces arrive in the town of Tal Tamr, not far from the flashpoint Kurdish Syrian town of Ras al-Ain on the border with Turkey, October 15, 2019.
Syrian government forces arrive in the town of Tal Tamr, not far from the flashpoint Kurdish Syrian town of Ras al-Ain on the border with Turkey, October 15, 2019.AFP
The U.S.-led coalition said that its forces had left the Syrian cities of Tabqah and Raqqa as well as a Lafarge cement factory as part of the withdrawal from northeast Syria.

"Coalition forces continue a deliberate withdrawal from northeast Syria. On October 16, we vacated the Lafarge Cement Factory, Raqqa, and Tabqah," coalition spokesman Colonel Myles B. Caggins said on Twitter.

7:35 P.M. Republican lawmakers introduce Turkey sanctions bill in Congress

Lawmakers from President Donald Trump's Republican Party have introduced a bill to impose sanctions on Turkey, which would target Ankara's highest-ranking government officials and the military.

The draft legislation also calls for additional sanctions on Turkey over its purchase of the Russian S-400 air defence system and orders a halt to visas for certain Turkish government officials.

Russian and Syrian national flags flutter on military vehicles near Manbij, Syria October 15, 2019.
Russian and Syrian national flags flutter on military vehicles near Manbij, Syria October 15, 2019. \ OMAR SANADIKI/ REUTERS
The legislation further wants a report on the personal wealth of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

7:15 P.M. Iraqi president holds security talks with U.S. diplomat

Iraqi President Barham Saleh has discussed the situation in northern Syria with a visiting U.S. official and said they had focused on ways of preventing Islamic State militants from taking advantage of the chaos to rise again.

A statement by Saleh's office said he spoke in Baghdad with David Schenker, a U.S. assistant secretary of state for near eastern affairs, about ways of supporting Iraq to preserve its security "amid the current challenges."

The statement said both officials said the extremists should not be given a chance "to revive their criminal activities and threaten the region and world's security."

6:59 P.M. Trump says the area of northern Syria 'has nothing to do with us'

U.S. President Donald Trump said the disputed area in northern Syria "has nothing to do with" the United States as he distanced himself from the conflict there.

"Our soldiers are not in harm's way, as they shouldn't be, as two countries fight over land that has nothing to do with us. And the Kurds are much safer right now," Trump said, apparently referring to the Russian and Syrian governments moving into territory.

6:11 P.M. Trump downplays Turkish offensive in Syria, says Kurds are 'not angels'

President Donald Trump played down the crisis in Syria touched off by Turkey's incursion against U.S.-allied Kurdish forces, saying the conflict was between Turkey and Syria and that it was "fine" for Russia to help Damascus.

Turkey-backed Syrian opposition fighters fire a heavy machine-gun towards Kurdish fighters, in Syria's northern region of Manbij on October 14, 2019.
Turkey-backed Syrian opposition fighters fire a heavy machine-gun towards Kurdish fighters, in Syria's northern region of Manbij on October 14, 2019.AP Photo
Trump, speaking to reporters at the White House, said imposing U.S. sanctions on Turkey would be better than fighting in the region and that it was up to the countries there to work it out.

The Kurds are "not angels," Trump said.

5:04 P.M. Erdogan says Turkish offensive will end if Syrian Kurds leave border area

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said Turkey's military operation in Syria will end only if Syrian Kurdish fighters lay down their weapons and leave the border area.

The offensive can only cease if "all terrorists drop their weapons ... and leave the safe zone which we have determined as soon as tonight," Erdogan told members of his Justice and Development Party (AKP) in parliament.

He was referring to a 444-kilometre-long buffer zone along Turkey's border with Syria up to Iraq, and 32 kilometres deep into Syrian territory.

4:41 P.M. Can NATO Members Kick Turkey Out of the Military Alliance? | Explained

4:07 P.M. Russian forces reach area outside Kobani in northern Syria, the Syrian Observatory says

Russian forces have crossed the Euphrates river in northern Syria and reached areas outside the city of Kobani, pushing eastward with Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the Syrian Observatory said on Wednesday.

The troop movement comes days after the SDF cut a deal with the Syrian government for army troops to deploy at the border following a Turkish invasion of northeast Syria last week.

The SDF could not be immediately reached for comment.

4:03 P.M. Pompeo says plans to meet Erdogan 'face-to-face'

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence expect to meet with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan when they travel to Turkey this week.

Pompeo, in an interview on Fox Business Network, said the U.S. delegation was planning to leave later on Wednesday and that the goal was to find a resolution to situation in Syria, not break the U.S.-Turkey relationship.

3:45 P.M. Erdogan clarifies he will meet with Pence

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will meet U.S. Vice President Mike Pence in Ankara after all, his communications director Fahrettin Altun clarifies.

Erdogan will not receive a U.S. delegation that is visiting Ankara on Wednesday, Altun tweeted. But the president will meet the visiting team led by Pence on Thursday, he added.

2:33 P.M. Syrian Army soldiers enter Raqaa

A group of Syrian soldiers have entered the city of Raqqa and begun setting up some observation posts, pro-Damascus al-Mayadeen TV reported.

The report came days after Kurdish-led forces, who seized the city from Islamic State in 2017, cut a deal with the Syrian government for army troops to deploy at the border.

2:16 P.M. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he will not meet with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, but that Pence will be meeting with his Turkish counterpart. "When Trump comes I will meet with him," Erdogan told Sky News.

2:03 P.M. Erdogan to reevaluate upcoming U.S. visit

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that he would decide whether to go ahead with a planned visit next month to the United States after meetings with an American delegation in Turkey this week.

Speaking to reporters in parliament, Erdogan said he would re-evaluate the trip because "arguments, debates, conversations being held in Congress regarding my person, my family and my minister friends are a very big disrespect" to the Turkish government.

Erdogan and U.S. President Donald Trump are due to meet in Washington on Nov. 13.

Separately, Erdogan also described Tuesday's move by U.S. prosecutors to charge Turkey's Halkbank with evading U.S. sanctions on Iran as an "unlawful, ugly step."

1:14 P.M. Turkey tells Kurds to leave northeast Syria by 'tonight'

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Syrian Kurdish fighters must leave a designated border area in northeast Syria "as of tonight" for Turkey to stop its military offensive.

Erdogan made the comments in Parliament amid pressure for him to call a cease-fire and halt its incursion into Syria, now into its eighth day.

Erdogan made clear Turkey would not bow to pressure and would press ahead with the military operation until Turkish troops reach a depth of some 30 or 35 kilometer inside Syria.

12:24 P.M. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu to meet with U.S. National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien shortly

12:21 P.M. Turkey cracks down on opposition to Syria incursion

Turkish authorities have arrested 24 people for spreading "black propaganda" on social media about Ankara's military operation in Syria, the state-run Anadolu news agency said.

Since the start of the operation, authorities have carried out a widespread crackdown on individuals criticising the Turkish operation, launching investigations against hundreds of people, including Kurdish lawmakers.

While most of Turkey's opposition parties have backed the operation, the pro-Kurdish Peoples Democratic Party (HDP) has called for an end to what it describes it as an "invasion attempt". Prosecutors launched an investigation against the HDP's co-chairs over their comments.

11:31 A.M. Russia says it will push for agreement between Syria, Kurds

Russia will encourage Syria's government and Kurdish forces to reach agreements and implement them following a Turkish operation in Syria's northeast, the RIA news agency cited Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as saying.

Lavrov said the Turkish operation had allowed captured Islamic State fighters to escape. He added that Moscow would support security cooperation between Turkish and Syrian forces along their border.

9:39 A.M. Assad forces, SDF, Turkish-backed rebels clash in Ain Issa

At least two Syrian army soldiers were killed when a Turkish shell fell overnight Tuesday on a post they were manning in north-east Syria, a war monitor said.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said the soldiers were killed when Turkish troops and their allies shelled an area east of Ain Issa, where clashes were also raging between Turkish forces and the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

The clashes led to the death of nine SDF fighters as well as 21 Turkish-backed rebels, the observatory said.

02:34 A.M. Trump to meet U.S. lawmakers on Syria at White House on Wednesday

The Republican and Democratic leaders of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, as well as the congressional foreign affairs and armed services committees are to meet with President Donald Trump at the White House on Wednesday to discuss the situation in Syria, congressional aides said on Tuesday.

Those invited include the Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the chairman and ranking members of the Senate Foreign Relations and House Foreign Affairs Committees, as well as the Senate and House Armed Services Committees, the sources said.

12:05 A.M. Putin invites Erdogan to Russia as Turkey advances in Syria

Russia's president Vladimir Putin spoke with Turkish president Tayyip Erdogan about Syria by phone and invited him to visit Russia in the next few days, the Kremlin said late on Tuesday. Putin and Erdogan agreed to ensure Syria's territorial integrity.

"The invitation has been accepted," the Kremlin said in a statement.

The leaders also discussed the need to avoid possible conflicts between Turkish and Syrian military, according to the statement.

Tuesday, 10:49 P.M. U.S. military aircraft carries out 'show of force' in Syria after Turkish-backed forces came close to American troops

U.S. military aircraft carried out a "show of force" in Syria after Turkish-backed fighters came in close proximity to American forces during a Turkish offensive into northeastern Syria, a U.S. official told Reuters.

The official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said U.S. military aircraft were flown over the area after troops in northeastern Syria felt the Turkish-backed fighters were too close. The Turkish-backed fighters dispersed after the show of force, the official said.

The Pentagon did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Tuesday, 8:23 P.M. Kremlin envoy says Turkish military must not stay in Syria

Russia's presidential envoy for Syria, Alexander Lavrentiev, said that Turkey has no right to deploy its forces in Syria permanently.

Speaking to journalists in Abu Dhabi about the Turkish military operation in Syria, he said that, according to earlier agreements, Turkish military can only cross into Syria and go 5-10 kilometres into its territory.

He said that Moscow does not approve the operation.

Tuesday, 6:00 P.M. Assad troops make territorial gains in Manbij

Syrian forces have taken control of an area of more than 1,000 square kilometres around the northeastern Syrian town of Manbij, the Interfax news agency reported, citing the Russian Ministry of Defence.

Syria's army has taken control of the Tabqa military airfield, two hydroelectric power plants and several bridges across the Euphrates river, the ministry was quoted as saying.

Tuesday, 5:09 P.M. Special Haaretz report from Syria: Desperate Kurds see only enemies around them

QAMISHLI, Syria — It’s 9 P.M. and pitch black. On the M4 highway connecting the towns Tal Tamr and Qamishli, a checkpoint held by Kurdish forces is lit up like a Christmas tree. Cones on the asphalt lead in to the crossing.

But this checkpoint is now vacant. A pickup truck rushes at full speed: The Kurdish fighters of the People’s Protection Units, the YPG, vacate their positions. “We’re leaving, the regime is coming,” one of them whispers through the window.

This was the moment the country’s destiny was seemingly changed forever... Read the full story here

Tuesday, 4:52 P.M. Russia moves to buffer between Turkey and Assad troops in northern Syria

Russia moved to fill the void left by the United States in northern Syria, deploying troops Tuesday to keep apart advancing Syrian government and Turkish forces.

Outside Manbij, Russian troops began patrolling front lines between Turkish and Syrian army positions to keep them separated, Russia's Defense Ministry said... Read the full story here

Tuesday, 3:55 P.M. UN says 190,000 have fled since Turkish offensive began in Syria

The number of people who have been uprooted since Turkey launched its incursion in north-eastern Syria last week has risen to 190,000, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said. The displaced people include 70,000 children, according to the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF).

At a press briefing of UN agencies in Geneva, a World Food Programme (WFP) spokesman said his agency stands ready to supply 450,000 people in north-eastern Syria with five-day food rations. So far, 83,000 people have received these packages.

Tuesday, 3:12 P.M. U.S. forces 'out of Manbij'

The U.S.-led coalition said its forces left Manbij in northern Syria on Tuesday, after state media said the Syrian army had entered the town.

Tuesday, 11:57 A.M. Syrian troops enter Manbij, state TV says

Syrian government troops have deployed inside the northern city of Manbij, Syria's Ikhbariya state TV says. The broadcast shows what it says are residents of Manbij celebrating the arrival of government troops.
https://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-new ... -1.7973896


seemslikeadream » Wed Oct 16, 2019 7:39 pm wrote:Trump told Erdogan that Barr and Mnuchin would handle his pleas to avoid charges against Halkbank over sanctions evasion. Barr pushed them to settle for a fine. but the months-long effort ended with criminal charges Tuesday.

Trump-Erdogan Call Led to Lengthy Quest to Avoid Halkbank Trial
Nick Wadhams
Donald Trump shakes hands with Recep Tayyip Erdogan the White House in Washington on May 16, 2017.

President Donald Trump assigned his attorney general and Treasury secretary to deal with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s repeated pleas to avoid charges against one of Turkey’s largest banks, according to two people familiar with the matter.

In an April phone call, Trump told Erdogan that William Barr and Steven Mnuchin would handle the issue, the people said. In the months that followed, no action was taken against Halkbank for its alleged involvement in a massive scheme to evade sanctions on Iran. That changed when an undated indictment was unveiled Tuesday -- a day after Trump imposed sanctions over Turkey’s military operation in northern Syria.

It marked an unusual intervention by a president to get his top cabinet officials involved in an active federal investigation. It’s not clear whether Trump instructed Barr and Mnuchin to satisfy Erdogan’s pleas or whether the president was simply tired of being asked about it.

But according to a third person who’s familiar with Turkey’s position, discussions over a deal that would resolve the issue out of court made little headway before Barr took over as attorney general in February and then became involved in the discussions.

Over the summer, the White House sought to stop Erdogan and his aides from pestering Trump on the matter, according to a person who was briefed on a number of phone calls that took place and asked not to be identified discussing private deliberations. In June, the person said, then-National Security Advisor John Bolton told a Turkish official, Ibrahim Kalin, that Trump wouldn’t engage on the issue directly after delegating it and that Turkish officials should stop raising it with the president.

In a call at about the same time, Barr told his Turkish counterpart, Abdulhamit Gul, that he needed to reach a deal with the U.S. attorney in Manhattan, where the case was under consideration, or it would go to trial. He said Turkey’s best option would be to accept a deferred prosecution agreement under which Halkbank would pay a fine and take steps to avoid further wrongdoing.

After months of negotiations, Turkish officials ultimately refused because they believed doing so would constitute an admission of guilt, according to the person. A second person familiar with the discussions confirmed that Turkey refused to accept the deal but said there had been progress toward a resolution.

President’s Priority

Trump’s involvement and his decision to assign Barr and Mnuchin to address the sensitive issue, working with Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, reflected the degree to which the Halkbank case became a priority for the president.

In the end, U.S. prosecutors filed criminal charges against Halkbank, accusing it of fraud, money laundering and violating U.S. sanctions against Iran. It’s unclear exactly when the Halkbank indictment was filed, raising questions about whether it was set aside until it became politically expedient for the Trump administration to unseal it.

The White House didn’t have advance notice there was an indictment against the bank or when it was going to be unsealed, according to an administration official.

Read More: Trump Bets Syria Chaos Is Outweighed by Campaign Vow

Justice Department officials declined to comment when asked about Barr’s efforts, and the Treasury Department declined to comment on Mnuchin’s role. The White House declined to comment, and the State Department declined to discuss the part Pompeo played. Bolton declined to comment.

The politically explosive indictment came as Turkish-U.S. tensions are soaring over Turkey’s military offensive in Syria after Trump’s withdrawal of American forces from key border posts last week. On Wednesday, Vice President Mike Pence and Pompeo were due to travel to Ankara for talks with Erdogan over the conflict in Syria.

The charges against Halkbank also come after years of public and private lobbying by Erdogan and other top Turkish officials -- starting in the Obama administration -- to get the investigations into violations of Iran sanctions dropped.

The matter is the latest instance linked to Turkey in which Trump has pressed for a solution beyond the bounds of the courtroom. In multiple meetings in 2017, Trump urged then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to persuade the Justice Department to drop the case against Reza Zarrab, a Turkish-Iranian gold trader at the center of the scheme to violate the sanctions.

Rudy Giuliani, who later became Trump’s personal attorney, represented Zarrab and pressed Trump to intervene on his client’s behalf.

Zarrab, a Turkish gold trader, ultimately pleaded guilty and became the star witness against a bank executive, Mehmet Hakan Atilla. Zarrab recounted how he’d helped Iran tap funds from overseas oil sales that were frozen in foreign accounts. Atilla was convicted in early 2018.

Read more: Turkey’s Halkbank Faces U.S. Charges as Tensions Mount

Together, the episodes demonstrate Trump’s receptiveness to Erdogan’s desire to avoid criminal proceedings that could shed an unflattering light on his government.

Mnuchin and the Treasury Department were also involved because they had a role in determining the size of a regulatory penalty against Halkbank after Atilla was convicted in January of last year of helping violate the Iran sanctions.

Critics said they grew alarmed that the fine hadn’t been issued more than a year after the executive’s conviction in January 2018. Some suspected that Erdogan’s persistent lobbying about the Halkbank case -- he brought it up during the Obama administration, including twice in meetings with Vice President Joe Biden, only to be rebuffed -- successfully persuaded Trump administration officials to hold back.

Evidence ‘Overwhelming’

“The evidence against Halkbank and, by extension, the Turkish government was overwhelming in this case,” said Michael Rubin, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. “But the Turks went full-force lobbying the Trump administration on this to avoid accountability. Frankly, some in the Trump administration were all too receptive to arguments that the mess was the result of Obama rather than a deliberate scheme on the part of the Turks.”

Halkbank did hire powerful lobbyists to advocate on its behalf before the Trump administration, according to Justice Department filings. One such lobbying firm was Ballard Partners, which was paid almost $780,000 from November 2018 through March of this year to work on Halkbank’s behalf. It renewed its contract for $40,000 a month in late July.

“What we had been doing was making the case to relevant administration officials about the importance of this bank to the financial system of Turkey and Turkey’s economy and that, in taking into account that Turkey is a NATO ally and the potential implications, the steps against the bank would have profound repercussions,” Ballard partner Jamie Rubin, a State Department spokesman in the Clinton administration, said in an interview.

Rubin said Ballard ended its contract with Halkbank as of Wednesday.

“Since the matter is now in the judicial system this is a natural endpoint for our representation,” Rubin said in an interview.

Turkey Decision-Making

Critics of Trump’s decision-making on Turkey also point to his refusal so far to sanction the country over its decision to purchase the S-400 missile defense system from Russia, as U.S. law requires. When Turkey started receiving parts for the system this summer, the State Department forwarded a list of recommended sanctions to the White House, only to have Trump ignore them, Bloomberg News reported at the time.

While Trump has been silent on the Halkbank case, public evidence suggests that he’s talked to others beyond his top staff about it. In an August phone call with a pair of Russian pranksters who presented themselves as Turkey’s defense minister, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said Trump was “very sensitive” to the “case involving the Turkish bank,” according to Politico.

“The president wants to be helpful, within the limits of his power,” said Graham, a close Trump ally.

— With assistance by Chris Strohm

(Updates with administration official comment in 10th paragraph.)
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles ... bank-trial


seemslikeadream » Tue Oct 15, 2019 4:30 pm wrote:multibillion-dollar scheme to evade U.S. sanctions on Iran


Adam Klasfeld

BREAKING: SDNY charges Turkish state-run bank Halkbank in sanctions violations in connection with the record-breaking money-laundering scheme to Iran executed by gold trader Reza Zarrab.

Zarrab was the client whose release Giuliani pushed for between Trump and Erdogan.
Image
1:49 PM - 15 Oct 2019


This is how the 45-page indictment begins. Uploading it now.

Look out for a story on this soon at @CourthouseNews.

Image

SDNY prosecutors charge the bank with six counts, including money laundering, bank fraud, and conspiracy counts.

Doc: https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdny/press ... 1/download

Since this was believed to be a multibillion-dollar conspiracy, the fine to the Turkish state-run bank could be quite large.

Background, from May 2018:

https://www.courthousenews.com/turkish- ... ing-in-ny/

Notable: Halkbank indictment signed only by Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman--no relation to the judge--who was Giuliani's partner at the firm Greenberg Traurig.

Halkbank case is an offshoot of case of Zarrab, a Giuliani client.

No names of the line prosecutors from the Zarrab case appear on the Halkbank indictment.
However, the SDNY press release notes that the same prosecutors from the Zarrab case will continue with the Halkbank one.

They’re just not on the original filing. So there’s some continuation.
Image
https://twitter.com/KlasfeldReports/sta ... 9218581506


Turkish Markets Brace for Banker’s Sentencing in NY
ADAM KLASFELDMay 11, 2018
MANHATTAN (CN) – As Hakan Atilla learns what sentence he must serve for helping Iran launder billions of dollars, Istanbul’s fragile markets will watch closely Wednesday for cues about the fate of the Turkish banker’s former employer.

Atilla had served as one of 13 managers at Halkbank, a Turkish government-run institution implicated in massive violations of U.S. sanctions, before his arrest last year at New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport.

With his conviction in January on sanctions violations, Turkey experts from here to Istanbul expect another shoe to drop soon for Halkbank.

“I think the markets are prepared for a fine of some sort from U.S. Treasury, but how much?” Asli Aydintasbas, a senior fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations, said in a phone interview. “That’s the question.”

The question could carry profound implications for the future of Turkey’s economy, which has been roiled by a recent coup attempt against the country’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his fevered hunt for supposed enemies under the country’s State of Emergency.

At Atilla’s trial, U.S. prosecutors could only estimate the scale of the Halkbank money-laundering scheme. In one sentencing brief, for example, they noted testimony from gold trader Reza Zarrab, who had been a key witness against Atilla, that he funneled “a few billion” euros in Iranian oil proceeds through the bank.

“The trial record also showed that the scheme involved both billions of dollars’ worth of gold transactions … and billions of dollars’ worth of fraudulent food transactions,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Lockard wrote in a memorandum.


Taken from federal surveillance footage, this still image shows U.S. authorities frisking Mehmet Hakan Atilla after his arrest on March 27, 2017. A former manager at the Turkish state-run bank Halkbank, Atilla is being tried in New York over transactions that flouted sanctions against Iran.
How U.S. regulators tabulate the damage, Aydintasbas said, could send Turkey’s markets into turmoil.

“So, if we’re talking about $1 or $2 billion, $3 billion, I think the markets have prepared for something like that,” she said. “But if we’re talking about $8, $9, $10 [billion], that would send shockwaves through the Turkish economy at a time when things are looking very, very fragile, particularly in terms of liquidity.”

Experts on U.S.-Turkish relations in both countries believe that is what Erdogan has feared most from the start of the Iran sanctions case.

Insisting upon deep cover, a U.S. Treasury official refused to decline comment on the record.

“Treasury does not comment on investigations, including to confirm whether one exists,” the official said.

The Erdogan Establishment
New York-based expert Steven Cook, a Council on Foreign Relations fellow who wrote the book “False Dawn,” noted that the case against Atilla here traces its origins to a 2013 corruption scandal implicating Erdogan’s political allies.


Reza Zarrab, a 34-year-old gold trader who was charged in the U.S. for evading sanctions on Iran, is pictured in this Dec. 17, 2013, photo surrounded by the media at a courthouse in Istanbul. (Depo Photos via AP)
One of the targets of that corruption investigation was Zarrab, whose arrest in the United States prompted years of lobbying by Erdogan’s government for his release.

“I think it’s clear that Reza Zarrab sat at this nexus of influence between the [Turkish] government and this world of corruption and sanctions-busting, and he was at arm’s length,” Cook said. “He was the plausible deniability.”

Erdogan cast the corruption probe as an attempted “judicial coup” organized by an Islamic cleric named Fethullah Gulen, now a U.S. resident living in self-imposed exile in rural Pennsylvania. Abandoning their onetime alliance, Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party accused the Gulenist movement’s followers of creating a shadow government inside its police, judiciary and academia.

The shift to archenemy status led to a purge of thousands of civil servants, effectively dismantling the corruption investigation.

Zarrab’s arrest in Miami some three years later revived the old allegations, much to the noticeable frustration of the Erdogan’s administration.

”Because [Zarrab] had knowledge of all these kinds of corrupt practices … Erdogan fought so hard, fought so hard to prevent this trial from happening,” Cook explained.

When his entreaties to two U.S. presidential administrations failed to secure Zarrab’s release, Erdogan last year retained high-profile allies of President Donald Trump for the gold trader’s legal team.


President-elect Donald Trump, right, and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani pose for photographs on Nov. 20, 2016, as Giuliani arrives at the Trump National Golf Club Bedminster clubhouse in Bedminster, N.J. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who had been Trump’s campaign surrogate, and ex-Attorney General Michael Mukasey both joined Zarrab’s legal team and attempted to negotiate a prisoner swap between Washington and Ankara.

When that fizzled, Zarrab struck a deal with U.S. prosecutors to take the witness stand against Atilla in New York. But the gold trader’s testimony also implicated high-ranking Turkish ministers in bribes of tens of millions of dollars, and he accused Erdogan of personally ordering sanctions-busting trades.

For Cook, the Turkish government’s failure to avert a trial showed that they cannot influence U.S. justice.

“From what I understand of the post-trial deliberations and the penalty phase, those lawyers working for the Department of Justice are once again insulated from the politics of the U.S.-Turkey relationship and diplomacy,” he said.

Turkey’s deeply polarized society has helped Erdogan navigate the domestic political fallout so far.

“Those who support the government – about 50 percent of the population, give or take around 5, 6, 7 percent – are going to believe the government’s narrative that this was politicized, that the United States is somehow in cahoots with Fethullah Gulen in trying to change the regime in Turkey,” Cook said.

“Then, there’s the other part of the Turkish citizenry who were paying attention to the trial, because they were keenly interested in the evidence that did emerge in the trial and were keenly interested in the process of the trial and who felt that this was the only place that they could have recourse,” he continued.

Overall, however, Cook said, Erdogan has weathered the storm.

“There is a large number of people in Turkey who believe these stories,” he noted. “So, he’s safe politically, but on the economic front, that’s a different story and that’s what they are worried about.”



Pressure on Press Rights
Erdogan mitigated the political fallout of the revelations, in part, because of his tight control of Turkish media.


Under the watchful eye of a Turkish army soldier standing guard outside a court, protesters demonstrate on Sept. 11, 2017, against a trial of journalists and staff from the Cumhuriyet newspaper, accused of aiding terror organizations. The journalists and staff from Cumhuriyet newspaper being tried in Silivri, Turkey, are staunchly opposed to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. One of the protesters holds a Turkish flag with an image of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)
On top of her fellowship at the European Council on Foreign Relations, Aydintasbas has been a writer for Turkey’s oldest serious newspaper Cumhuriyet, a publication that Erdogan’s prosecutors targeted for a string of prosecutions denounced by international press-freedom monitors.

“There wasn’t much in mainstream media,” the veteran Turkish journalist said of the Zarrab case.

“I think it was pretty much confined to Twitter and social media,” she continued. “There were a couple of Turkish journalists following it over there, but they haven’t fully reported the details, particularly those working for mainstream outlets haven’t fully reported all the details.”

“I would say, all in all, there was a bit of a blackout on the case,” she said.

Reporters Without Borders ranked Turkey 155th out of 180 nations in its most recent press-freedom index.

Slamming the Turkish government’s anti-media “witch hunt,” the Paris-based watchdog chronicled how Turkey shut down dozens of news outlets and became the world’s leading jailer of journalists.

Erdogan’s anti-press clampdown may have muted embarrassing revelations inside his country, but the international criticism it engendered has made some investors queasy.

“Turkish banks are not having an easy time borrowing,” she said. “It’s not like a decade ago, when Turkey was a rising star as an emerging market – also, an exemplary country so to speak as an emerging democracy.”


Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan gestures as he delivers a speech during a rally for his ruling Justice and Development (AKP) Party in Mersin, southern Turkey, on March 10, 2018.(Kayhan Ozer/Pool Photo via AP)
Erdogan had been Turkey’s prime minister at the time, a position he served from 2003 and 2014, the year he became the nation’s president.

“Now, things are looking very different in that sequence,” she said.

Cook, the New York-based Turkey expert, noted that Atilla’s prosecution came to a head at a sensitive time for Erdogan, who is seeking a second term in office.

“In the end, it was not really about, for Erdogan, the revelations from the United States court that would come out publicly,” he said. “I think it was the fear that it would result in actions from the United States and the U.S. Treasury and the U.S. Justice Department that would harm the Turkish economy that would in turn harm him as he stands for election again scheduled in late 2019.”

Shortly after the interview with Cook, Erdogan kneecapped the opposition by fast-tracking elections for June 24. One of his rivals, Kurdish opposition leader Selahattin Demirtas, is currently in prison. Republican People’s Party (CHP) candidate Muharrem Ince, the main opposition leader, has complained about lack of media coverage. Erdogan has refused to debate him.
https://www.courthousenews.com/turkish- ... ing-in-ny/



Zachary Basu
22 mins ago
Turkish bank tied to Giuliani client indicted in money laundering scheme

Reza Zarrab. Photo: Ozan Kose/AFP/Getty Images
A Turkish bank known as Halkbank has been charged in a 6-count indictment for "fraud, money laundering, and sanctions offenses related to the bank’s participation in a multibillion-dollar scheme to evade U.S. sanctions on Iran," federal prosecutors in New York announced on Tuesday.

Why it matters: Bloomberg reported last week that in 2017, President Trump pressed former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to help convince the Justice Department to drop a sanctions evasion case against an Iranian-Turkish gold trader named Reza Zarrab — a client of Rudy Giuliani's whose case was a high priority for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Zarrab later pleaded guilty and testified against the CEO of Halkbank, alleging that "Erdogan knew of and supported the laundering effort on behalf of Iran."

"Halkbank, a Turkish state-owned bank, allegedly conspired to undermine the United States Iran sanctions regime by illegally giving Iran access to billions of dollars’ worth of funds, all while deceiving U.S. regulators about the scheme. This is one of the most serious Iran sanctions violations we have seen, and no business should profit from evading our laws or risking our national security."
— Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers
https://www.axios.com/halkbank-turkish- ... 89461.html



Anna Massoglia


Turkey's govt-owned bank Halkbank paid $2M+ to Trump-tied foreign agents & lobbyists since its deputy chief was arrested over a money laundering scheme with Rudy Giuliani's client allegedly funneling Iran millions of dollars to secretly evade sanctions http://crp.org/bplob
https://twitter.com/annalecta/status/11 ... 5659845632





Kyle Griffin

Giuliani "brought up Gulen so frequently with Trump during visits to the W.H. that one former official described the subject as Giuliani's 'hobby horse.' He was so focused on the issue ... W.H. aides worried that Giuliani was making the case on behalf of the Turkish government."


BREAKING: SDNY charges Turkish state-run bank Halkbank in sanctions violations in connection with the record-breaking money-laundering scheme to Iran executed by gold trader Reza Zarrab.

Zarrab was the client whose release Giuliani pushed for between Trump and Erdogan.

https://twitter.com/KlasfeldReports/sta ... 9686937607


Did Rudy tell trump to pull U.S. troops out of northern Syria?[/quote]


Adam Klasfeld

Preet was fired shortly after Giuliani met with Erdogan.

Elie Honig

At some point in early 2017, somebody had to have whispered into Trump’s ear something like “Hey boss, we’re gonna be breaking a lotta laws and obstructing a lotta justice in NY, so this @PreetBharara guy’s gotta go.” Who was it? Rudy? Jared? Other? https://twitter.com/klasfeldreports/sta ... 8971832320
6:13 PM - 9 Oct 2019


Adam Klasfeld added,
Preet Bharara

I have a lot of questions about this — Trump trying to interfere with this case in SDNY against Turkey’s Reza Zarrab https://twitter.com/yashar/status/1182061751380127744

Something Erdogan had lobbied for in 2016.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions ... story.html
Image

he got both, in the end






Neva

1/
Add Flynn to the Tillerson, Giuliani, Zarrab mess—

December 2016 meeting between Flynn and senior Turkish officials
Flynn and other participants discussed a way to free a Turkish-Iranian gold trader, Reza Zarrab, who is jailed in the U.S.

2/
Zarrab is facing federal charges that he helped Iran skirt U.S. sanctions

Rudy Giuliani, who was a top Trump campaign surrogate alongside Flynn, is part of Zarrab's defense team

3/
The New York Times reported that Giuliani met Erdoğan in late February
Giuliani and Erdogan discussed an agreement under which Zarrab would be freed in exchange for Turkey's help furthering U.S. interests in the region


4/
The meeting allegedly took place at the upscale 21 Club restaurant in New York, just blocks away from Trump Tower
Flynn, his son, and several Turkish officials planned to deliver—kidnap, basically—Fethullah Gülen to the Turkish government in exchange for $15 million

5/
November of 2016, The Hill published an op-ed written by Flynn comparing Gulen to Osama bin Laden

Flynn urged the U.S. to “adjust our foreign policy to recognize Turkey as a priority”

6/
Prosecutors charged Bijan Rafiekian, aka Bijan Kian, and Kamil Ekim Alptekin with acting as unregistered agents of the Turkish government in a plot centered around Turkish
cleric Fethullah Gulen, who lives in Pennsylvania


7/
Bijan Kian faces up to 15 years of imprisonment, and Kamil Ekim Alptekin faces up to 30 years of imprisonment

Flynn and son, Flynn Intel Group, were not charged
https://twitter.com/KlasfeldReports/sta ... 8971832320


Image


dam Klasfeld


Erdogan’s fear, as related by @ColinKahl here, was well-founded:

Zarrab implicated Erdogan and multiple-high ranking AKP ministers in the money laundering scandal on the witness stand.


From my live trial coverage nearly two years ago:
https://twitter.com/KlasfeldReports/sta ... 2269517825


Turkish President Implicated in Iran Sanctions Case
ADAM KLASFELD
November 30, 2017

Ahead of a May 16 meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump at the White House, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his wife, Emine, disembark from a plane after arriving in Washington on May 15, 2017. (Presidency Press Service/Pool photo via AP)

MANHATTAN (CN) – The U.S. government’s key witness in a trial over billions of dollars funneled to Iran implicated Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the scheme Thursday.

“What I’m saying is that the prime minister at that time period, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and minister of the treasury, Ali Babacan, had given orders to start doing this trade,” Reza Zarrab testified this morning.

A wealthy businessman who has been cooperating with U.S. prosecutors as part of a plea deal in the same case, Zarrab has been regaling jurors for two days about bribes to Turkish officials and a complicated scheme in which using gold trades were used to circumvent U.S. sanctions against Iran.

Erdogan would not become president of Turkey until 2014. It was as the country’s prime minister, Zarrab said, that Erdogan ordered trades between Iran and Turkey’s Ziraat Bank and Vakif Bank.


Reza Zarrab, a 34-year-old gold trader who was charged in the U.S. for evading sanctions on Iran, is pictured in this Dec. 17, 2013, photo surrounded by the media at a courthouse in Istanbul. The case against Zarrab is built on work initially performed by Turkish investigators who targeted him in 2013 in a sweeping corruption scandal that led high up to Turkish government Turkey’s official news agency reported that prosecutors there launched an investigation on Nov. 18, 2017, into two U.S. prosecutors involved in trying the Turkish-Iranian businessman. (Depo Photos via AP)
Zarrab said he assumed Ziraat Bank had offices in New York at the time of the trades.

Before this morning’s testimony, Erdogan released a statement defending his government’s conduct.

“We have both energy and trade relations with Iran,” Erdogan said, according to a translation by City University of New York professor Louis Fishman.

“We did not violate the [U.S.] embargo,” the Turkish president added. “Whatever happens in trial we did the correct thing. We did not have such an commitment to U.S. The world does not consist of the U.S. alone.”

Zarrab specified that he did not have direct knowledge of Erdogan’s alleged order, which he said he learned about from Turkey’s then-economic minister Zafer Caglayan.

A day earlier, Zarrab claimed to have bribed Caglayan between “45 and 50 million in euros” and more in other currency in service of the money laundering scheme, and the alleged corruption scheme expanded again today.

Zarrab said that he paid $2 million to Suleyman Aslan, the general manager of the state-run Halkbank.

The allegation put prosecutors one step closer to the man on trial: Mehmet Atilla, a manager at the same bank.

Zarrab did not accuse Atilla of corruption: Paying off anyone else was unnecessary, Zarrab said, because Caglayan and Aslan were already on the payroll.

“I was already giving bribes to the Turkish minister of the economy,” Zarrab noted.

But Atilla, according to Zarrab, was necessary to formulate a scheme to disguise Iranian assets in the form of food aid, which prosecutors claim to have been a sham.

Prosecutors played two audio recordings today of conversations between Zarrab and Atilla speaking of these transactions in Turkish.

During one of these conversations, Zarrab claims that Atilla told him: “Yes, I have knowledge of this matter,” referring to the Iranian transactions.

Atilla’s name had previously received scant mention, even though he is the sole defendant.

During opening statements, Assistant U.S. Attorney David Denton called Atilla the “architect” of the money laundering scheme, and he introduced a message indicating that the 47-year-old bank manager helped create the system.

Asked whether he had a “problem with the method proposed by Hakan Atilla” in April 2013, Zarrab replied: “No, that is absolutely the correct method.”

Prosecutors also introduced evidence through WhatsApp, the popular chat platform for encrypted communications.

“Generally, we were writing on WhatsApp the sensitive subjects, the private subjects and the important subjects,” Zarrab said.

In one message entered into evidence, Zarrab told Aslan: “My dear general manager, I started food today,” which he described as another nod to the Iran trades.

Zarrab’s testimony has received intense attention in Turkey, where Erdogan’s opponents see it as a reckoning over a 2013 corruption scandal that implicated several top people in the Turkish government.

One of those officials, former Turkish Minister of the Interior Muammer Guler, was caught up in that probe through his family, and Zarrab said today that he paid that man’s son Baris a $100,000 bribe.

The United States had Zarrab arrested in March 2016, years after the Turkish prosecution Erdogan described as a “judicial coup” evaporated.

The gold trader’s plea deal has raised eyebrows on both sides of the globe, with multiple outlets reporting that Zarrab may be cooperating in a probe of former White House national security adviser Michael Flynn.

As part of his investigation of Russian interference in the 2016, the Department of Justice’s special counsel Robert Mueller is reportedly eyeing whether Trump’s former national-security adviser Michael Flynn considered kidnapping a Turkish dissident living in Pennsylvania and delivering him to Erdogan in exchange for $15 million.

NBC reported that Mueller may also be interested in whether Turkish government officials ever sought Flynn’s help in winning Zarrab’s release from prison.

Zarrab has not testified to any of these U.S. political ripples of his case so far.

His testimony, originally expected to conclude Friday, is likely to last far longer because the prosecution’s direct examination has not yet ended. Atilla’s attorneys will likely then try to undermine Zarrab’s statements on cross-examination.
https://www.courthousenews.com/money-la ... ader-says/




INDICTED Turkish Minister Former General Manager...GIULIANI?
viewtopic.php?f=8&t=40682
[/quote]

seemslikeadream » Wed Oct 09, 2019 6:36 pm wrote:Sounds like the SOS Rexxon has sprung a leak :)




Big development in the case of Reza Zarrab.

this is explosive—a dam breaking.

trump urged Tillerson to help Giuliani client facing DOJ charges


Trump Urged Top Aide to Help Giuliani Client Facing DOJ Charges

President Donald Trump pressed then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to help persuade the Justice Department to drop a criminal case against an Iranian-Turkish gold trader who was a client of Rudy Giuliani, according to three people familiar with the 2017 meeting in the Oval Office.

Tillerson refused, arguing it would constitute interference in an ongoing investigation of the trader, Reza Zarrab, according to the people. They said other participants in the Oval Office were shocked by the request.

President Trump Hosts Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy At The White House
Photographer: Zach Gibson/Bloomberg

Tillerson immediately repeated his objections to then-Chief of Staff John Kelly in a hallway conversation just outside the Oval Office, emphasizing that the request would be illegal. Neither episode has been previously reported, and all of the people spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the conversations.

The White House declined to comment. Kelly and Tillerson declined to comment via representatives. Another person familiar with the matter said the Justice Department never considered dropping the criminal case.

Zarrab was being prosecuted in federal court in New York at the time on charges of evading U.S. sanctions against Iran’s nuclear program. He had hired former Attorney General Michael Mukasey and Giuliani, who has said he reached out repeatedly to U.S. officials to seek a diplomatic solution for his client outside the courts.

The president’s request to Tillerson -- which included asking him to speak with Giuliani -- bears the hallmarks of Trump’s governing style, defined by his willingness to sweep aside the customary procedures and constraints of government to pursue matters outside normal channels. Tillerson’s objection came to light as Trump’s dealings with foreign leaders face intense scrutiny following the July 25 call with Ukraine’s president that has sparked an impeachment inquiry in the House.

TURKEY-POLITICS-CORRUPTION
Photographer: Ozan Kose/AFP via Getty Images
The episode is also likely to fuel long-standing concerns from some of Trump’s critics about his policies toward Turkey and his relationship with its authoritarian president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Zarrab’s release was a high priority for Erdogan until the gold trader agreed to cooperate with prosecutors in New York.

It isn’t clear whether Trump considered his request for Tillerson to intervene to be improper or was just testing the bounds of what he could do as president on an issue that could provide diplomatic benefits while also helping Giuliani, a longtime supporter. The Oval Office meeting occurred in the second half of 2017 and Giuliani wasn’t the president’s personal lawyer at the time, as he is now.

‘Prisoner Swap’

In a phone interview this month, Giuliani initially denied that he ever raised Zarrab’s case with Trump but later said he might have done so. He said he’d been speaking with U.S. officials as part of his effort to arrange a swap of Zarrab for Andrew Brunson, an American pastor jailed in Turkey who was later released in 2018.

“Suppose I did talk to Trump about it -- so what? I was a private lawyer at the time,” Giuliani said. “Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe at some point I dropped his name in a conversation. Or maybe one of his people talked to him about it because I was trying to do a prisoner swap.”

Giuliani said he discussed the Zarrab case with State Department officials and disclosed that two years ago, although he declined to say if he ever spoke directly to Tillerson about the case, saying “you have no right to know that.”

State Department Alarm

Concerns about Trump’s close alliance with Erdogan were exacerbated this week after Trump abruptly announced on Sunday that he would clear U.S. troops from the path of a planned Turkish invasion in northeast Syria. The weekend announcement drew quick criticism from top Republican lawmakers, who said it endangered Kurdish forces the U.S. relied on to defeat Islamic State. Those Kurdish-led forces are now under attack.
Trump followed his weekend decision with an announcement Tuesday that he has invited Erdogan to the White House in November.

As he was with Ukraine, Giuliani was so steeped in events in Turkey that State Department officials grew increasingly alarmed. Earlier in 2017, he had traveled to the country and met with Erdogan as part of his effort to seek a resolution in Zarrab’s case.

He and Mukasey said in a letter to the judge in Zarrab’s case that they notified then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions of their plans before holding a meeting with Erdogan.

Erdogan repeatedly spoke with Trump and, before 2017, Obama administration officials about Zarrab’s case when it was before the Southern District of New York as part of a broader investigation into a scheme to evade sanctions on Iran.

At one point, the State Department under Tillerson got involved in discussions over possibly swapping Zarrab for Brunson, the jailed pastor, but the matter was eventually dropped because Turkey kept escalating its demands, according to another person familiar with the timeline of events.

Tillerson has said publicly that the president frequently asked him to do things that were illegal.

“So often, the president would say ‘Here’s what I want to do and here’s how I want to do it,’ and I would have to say to him, ‘Mr. President I understand what you want to do but you can’t do it that way,”’ Tillerson said in an on-stage interview with Bob Schieffer in Texas last year. “It violates the law, it violates treaty you know and he just, he got really frustrated when we’d have those conversations.”

Opulent Lifestyle

Zarrab, a one-time gold trader in his mid-30s, had lived an opulent lifestyle in Turkey, with a private plane, yacht and a Turkish pop-star wife. After his arrest in early 2016, prosecutors alleged he had “close ties” with Erdogan. They accused Zarrab of using his network of companies to move money through the U.S. financial system to help Iran evade sanctions as the U.S. was stepping up economic pressure on the country.

Zarrab later pleaded guilty and testified against Mehmet Hakan Atilla, who headed international banking at state-owned Turkiye Halk Bankasii AS, known as Halkbank. Zarrab said Erdogan knew of and supported the laundering effort on behalf of Iran. Erdogan and other senior Turkish officials repeatedly rejected the accusations, saying they were fabrications.
Atilla was eventually convicted of helping Iran evade economic sanctions on billions of dollars of oil revenue and served 28 months in U.S. prison before returning to Turkey in July to a hero’s welcome. Turkey has so far managed to avoid U.S. penalties over the sanctions-evasion scheme.
Despite Erdogan’s demands and Giuliani’s efforts, Zarrab was never sent back to Turkey. Once he agreed to testify, he was moved to a county jail for safekeeping, and he stayed there until after Atilla’s trial was over. By then, Zarrab’s home and assets in Turkey had been seized by Erdogan.
http://archive.is/oADSb



@KlasfeldReports

Re-up of my interview last year of the judge who presided over the Zarrab case
Image


In the Age of Trump, Judge Reflects on D’Souza and the ‘New Rudy’
ADAM KLASFELDJune 22, 2018
MANHATTAN (CN) – Among treasured mementos from his decades on the bench, U.S. District Judge Richard Berman has a picture in his chambers of when the mayor of New York City swore him into his first judicial post.


U.S. District Judge Richard Berman poses for a photograph in his chambers at the Southern District of New York. (ADAM KLASFELD, CNS)
Three years before President Bill Clinton would appoint Berman to the Southern District of New York, the black-and-white image from 1995 shows Mayor Rudy Giuliani behind a lectern bearing the city seal at a ceremony appointing Berman to Queens Family Court.

This was the “old Rudy,” as Berman put it in an interview 23 years later.

Before Giuliani moved into Gracie Mansion in 1994, the Brooklyn native spent eight years at a very senior level in the Justice Department followed by another five as an aggressive federal prosecutor in the Southern District.

“In retrospect, I may have been one of the first people to encounter professionally the ‘new Rudy,’” said Berman, referring to recent criminal proceedings where Giuliani represented Reza Zarrab against charges that he helped Iran launder billions of dollars through Turkish banks.

Hired by Zarrab after the gold trader’s arrest in 2016, Giuliani and ex-Attorney General Mike Mukasey worked behind the scenes, without stepping foot in court, on a quasi-diplomatic mission between Ankara and Washington to have Zarrab freed as part of a prisoner swap.

Berman took care, during an interview in his chambers, to show how Giuliani’s machinations in the case left him gobsmacked. In addition to speaking at length about the former mayor’s “unusual” conduct, Berman dwelled on Giuliani some more in a sheet of hand-written notes.

“I am still stunned by the fact that Rudy was hired to be – and he very actively pursued – being the ‘go between’ between President Trump and Turkey’s President Erdogan in an unprecedented effort to terminate this federal criminal case in the middle of the case,” Berman wrote in notes he prepared for the interview.

“Had Rudy succeeded, he and the two presidents I mentioned, would have helped very significantly the country of Iran – which was the beneficiary of the conspiracies to avoid USA sanctions against Iran, i.e. the very heart of the allegations in this case,” the notes continue. “My head still spins when I consider that.”

Though Giuliani was most publicly associated with his role as a surrogate for Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign, the former mayor had also joined the law firm Greenberg Traurig in January of that year. Giuliani resigned from the firm last month, shortly after taking a leave of absence to focus on special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of Russian influence in Trump’s campaign. The White House referred comment on Giuliani to his outside counsel, Jay Sekulow. A spokesman for Sekulow at the American Center for Law and Justice did not return a press inquiry on his cellphone.

Berman recalled that the “old Rudy” staked his political reputation as an anti-Iran hawk who forged his anti-terrorism bona fides in the fires of the fallen Twin Towers after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

In every sense calm and measured, Berman let out a characteristically quiet exclamation about Giuliani’s transformation: “I mean, how ironic!”

Zarrab ultimately pleaded guilty to seven counts of sanctions violations, money laundering and bribery when Giuliani’s pressure in his case failed. The ensuing cooperation agreement Zarrab reached with prosecutors led to a trial here that would make Judge Berman a household name halfway across the world.

Because of what happened after Berman’s first trip to Turkey, however, the judge now rules out plans for a return visit. “There’s no way I would go,” Berman said.

When Berman first traveled to Istanbul for an international symposium in May 2014, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was already several months deep into a purge of police, prosecutors and judges — part of an effort to quash a corruption probe that Erdogan branded a “judicial coup.”

Berman has conflicted feelings now when he thinks back on the trip. “I was having sort of difficulty in reconciling what appeared to be going on or starting to go on politically with the fact they’re holding this huge and fabulous conference on the rule of law,” said Berman, who joined other esteemed judges, law professors and attorneys at the time in urging Turkey to protect its democratic institutions.

“One, me, didn’t have the sense that I would get arrested or anything like that,” Berman added.


Three years before he became a U.S. district judge, Richard Berman (left) was sworn in for a post on the Queens Family Court by then-New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (right). Today this photograph of the ceremony appears in Berman’s chambers. Berman’s father is seen in the center of the photo. (ADAM KLASFELD, CNS)
Impressed by the hospitality of his Turkish hosts, Berman came back from his trip with a fine rug his wife had purchased from a shop in Istanbul and fond memories of his gracious reception.

“There seemed to be a great affinity to Americans, or to us,” the judge said.

Today though the Turkish government and its media organs has tarred participants in the conference by association. State media published a picture of the 5-star Four Seasons hotel room in Istanbul where Berman stayed. Other headlines labeled him a “FETO-Linked Judge.”

Short for Fethullahist Terrorist Organization, FETO is the word by which the Turkish government demonizes followers of Fethullah Gulen, a U.S.-based Islamic cleric living in Pennsylvania. Erdogan’s government uses the acronym more broadly to discredit any judge, attorney, reporter or human rights worker perceived to be criticizing his regime.

Turkey’s judiciary faced a rapid deterioration following an apparent coup attempt on Erdogan in July 2016. Imposing a state of emergency, Erdogan used his newfound powers that summer to raid the Istanbul offices of Yuksel Karkin Kucuk, a Turkish firm associated with DLA Piper that co-sponsored the 2014 conference.

“That was to my knowledge, when we went over there, one of the most prominent law firms in Istanbul,” Berman said.

Zarrab’s prosecution in New York meanwhile put a spotlight on Erdogan’s standing in Washington. After Erdogan won a referendum last year that stripped away checks on his power, he received an expression of congratulations by Trump, who has real estate in Istanbul.

Evidence in the Zarrab case showed as well that Giuliani’s law firm Greenberg Traurig acted as a registered agent for the Turkish government.

Just last month, the Trump White House intruded in another of Berman’s cases through the pardon of Dinesh D’Souza, the conservative commentator who pleaded guilty to a campaign-finance violation.

“He was treated very unfairly by our government,” Trump tweeted of D’Souza in May.

But back in 2014, it was Berman who gave D’Souza an opportunity to prove selective prosecution. He said that offer came up empty.

“Not only was there not some, there was no evidence of unfairness,” Berman said. “It was not because he was treated unfairly. The pardon was for some other reason. If I had to guess, I would say politics because it’s become known that Senator Cruz intervened on Mr. D’Souza’s behalf.”

D’Souza’s spokesman did not return an email request for comment by press time.

Trump’s allies could not subterfuge the wheels of justice in the case against Zarrab, who still faces sentencing. Last month, Berman gave another member of the conspiracy, Turkish banker Hakan Atilla, a 32-month sentence for what he described as a minor role in the case.

Echoing his words from Atilla’s sentencing, Berman remarked on the 101 letters of support Atilla received from Turkey paint a vastly different picture of U.S.-Turkish relations than the Erdogan government would have it.

“It is very difficult to reconcile the collaborative, polite, informative, kind and generous letters of support for Mr. Atilla from Turkish citizens with the sometimes very harsh rhetoric from the highest Turkish officials,” Berman said.

As Erdogan heads for re-election on Sunday, the lead opposition candidate, Muharrem Ince, has led a surprisingly competitive campaign attacking what the candidate calls his rival’s “society of fear.” The much softer tone has drawn millions of Turks to Ince’s rallies.
https://www.courthousenews.com/on-the-b ... -of-trump/


Image

Neva

1/
Add Flynn to the Tillerson, Giuliani, Zarrab mess—

December 2016 meeting between Flynn and senior Turkish officials
Flynn and other participants discussed a way to free a Turkish-Iranian gold trader, Reza Zarrab, who is jailed in the U.S.

2/
Zarrab is facing federal charges that he helped Iran skirt U.S. sanctions

Rudy Giuliani, who was a top Trump campaign surrogate alongside Flynn, is part of Zarrab's defense team

3/
The New York Times reported that Giuliani met Erdoğan in late February
Giuliani and Erdogan discussed an agreement under which Zarrab would be freed in exchange for Turkey's help furthering U.S. interests in the region


4/
The meeting allegedly took place at the upscale 21 Club restaurant in New York, just blocks away from Trump Tower
Flynn, his son, and several Turkish officials planned to deliver—kidnap, basically—Fethullah Gülen to the Turkish government in exchange for $15 million

5/
November of 2016, The Hill published an op-ed written by Flynn comparing Gulen to Osama bin Laden

Flynn urged the U.S. to “adjust our foreign policy to recognize Turkey as a priority”

6/
Prosecutors charged Bijan Rafiekian, aka Bijan Kian, and Kamil Ekim Alptekin with acting as unregistered agents of the Turkish government in a plot centered around Turkish
cleric Fethullah Gulen, who lives in Pennsylvania


7/
Bijan Kian faces up to 15 years of imprisonment, and Kamil Ekim Alptekin faces up to 30 years of imprisonment

Flynn and son, Flynn Intel Group, were not charged
https://twitter.com/KlasfeldReports/sta ... 8971832320




Adam Klasfeld

Preet was fired shortly after Giuliani met with Erdogan.

Elie Honig

At some point in early 2017, somebody had to have whispered into Trump’s ear something like “Hey boss, we’re gonna be breaking a lotta laws and obstructing a lotta justice in NY, so this @PreetBharara guy’s gotta go.” Who was it? Rudy? Jared? Other? https://twitter.com/klasfeldreports/sta ... 8971832320
6:13 PM - 9 Oct 2019


Adam Klasfeld added,
Preet Bharara

I have a lot of questions about this — Trump trying to interfere with this case in SDNY against Turkey’s Reza Zarrab https://twitter.com/yashar/status/1182061751380127744

Something Erdogan had lobbied for in 2016.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions ... story.html
Image

he got both, in the end



Mr. 9/11 Rudy Giuliani
viewtopic.php?f=8&t=41841
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Re: Halkbank is now fugitive from charges & is in contempt

Postby seemslikeadream » Wed Oct 23, 2019 9:57 am

Adam Klasfeld

BREAKING: Judge Berman finds Halkbank “knowingly disobeyed” his order to appear in court and sets a Nov. 5 date for its arraignment.

He also rules Halkbank can be served electronically via its longtime firm King & Spalding. cc: @CourthouseNews
Image
Remember, King & Spalding—a firm that advised Trump’s real estate empire and counted FBI director Christopher Wray as an ex-partner—claimed it was not authorized to accept service for Halkbank.

Judge Berman just rejected that.
6:54 AM - 23 Oct 2019
10 Retweets 28 Likes JP7916CUPCAKE GALLEGO KETAY BARRON DENNISON MILLERPeggy S. MitchellStephaine Bessettemeeks HutchMr FirGirBirgerSam2018Yvonne Martinbarbara fitz
https://twitter.com/KlasfeldReports/sta ... 2955218944


Turkey’s Lobbyists Had Deep Access to Trump White House
ADAM KLASFELDOctober 22, 2019

Vice President Mike Pence meets with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the Presidential Palace for talks on the Kurds and Syria on Oct. 17, 2019, in Ankara, Turkey. (AP Photo / Jacquelyn Martin)
MANHATTAN (CN) – Ballard Partners, the firm dubbed “the Most Powerful Lobbyist in Trump’s Washington,” ended its years-long contract with Turkey’s state-run Halkbank last week, the day after that bank’s indictment in a record-breaking money-laundering scheme.

Halkbank’s prosecution comes amid the precipitous withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria following a phone call between President Donald Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Kurdish forces had controlled a territory in Syria’s northeast until two weeks ago when an invasion by Turkish troops began pushing them south.

It was four years ago meanwhile that the U.S. president whose brand adorns Trump Towers Istanbul admitted to having something of a “conflict of interest” in Turkey. Public records show Turkish interests run deeper than his corporate empire.

Ballard Partners, run by Trump’s top Florida fundraiser Brian Ballard, spent more than two years and made roughly $2 million representing the Turkish government and Halkbank. Ballard bundled $295,000 this past quarter to Trump Victory, a political action committee, and has donated tens of thousands of dollars more to Trump’s campaign and associates.

Records disclosed under the Foreign Agents Registration Act show that Turkey’s payments to Ballard came with high-ranking access to Trump’s State Department, Treasury Department and White House, at critical moments for the U.S.-Turkish relationship.

Ballard Partners landed its $125,000-per-month contract with the Turkish government on May 11, 2017, less than two months after Halkbank executive Hakan Atilla was charged with helping to funnel billions of dollars to Iran in violation of U.S. sanctions.

Halkbank signed a separate contract with Ballard for the same amount in August, a couple of months before trial in that case began, but Ballard Partners announced Wednesday it would no longer represent the state-run bank that had been indicted in New York a day earlier.

It is not the only Trump-tied firm to keep some distance. Last Friday, as U.S. prosecutors sought to serve Halkbank with its indictment, the law firm King & Spalding claimed to have no authorization to accept service for the bank it has represented for the past two years. King & Spalding is also an erstwhile employer of FBI Director Christopher Wray as well as a longtime adviser to President Donald Trump’s real estate empire. The firm did not return a request for comment after a hearing Tuesday where U.S. prosecutors declared the bank a “fugitive.”

Before Ballard severed ties, it had led the lobbying campaign that assigned three of the firm’s other top figures to work on Turkey’s behalf: former U.S. Congressman Robert Wexler, ex-Clinton State Department official Jamie Rubin and Syl Lukis, a managing partner at the firm.

The next year, an article boasting of the firm’s outsized influence in the Trump administration ran in Politico, where Rubin serves as a contributing editor.

Rubin told Courthouse News in a phone interview that the firm had tried to make sure U.S. agencies would be aware how charges against Halkbank could affect international relations with a NATO ally.

“Once the indictment was brought down, we had been reduced in our work for Halkbank as the matter was basically in judicial channels,” Rubin said, explaining why the firm ended its contract. “We concluded that there was little more that we could do.”

Public records indicate that Rubin himself had limited contacts related to the Turkey and Halkbank contracts, which show the diplomat-turned-lobbyist placed two phone calls with Matthew Palmer, a deputy assistant secretary at the State Department.

On May 11, 2017, the day Ballard Partners signed Turkey as a client, Wexler spent more than $8,000 of the Turkish government’s money on travel expenses.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had his first Oval Office summit with Trump five days later, as Erdoğan’s bodyguards assaulted peaceful protesters on the streets of Washington. The White House remained silent about the incident and, roughly two months later in July 2017, Ballard called Trump’s deputy Sean Cairncross for reasons undisclosed in public records.


Turkish Minister of Treasury and Finance Berat Albayrak (second from the right) attends an April 15, 2019, meeting in Washington with U.S. President Donald Trump (left), U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (third from the right) and Jared Kushner (right), Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser. (Photo via Consulate General of the Republic of Turkey in Chicago)
A little more than a year would pass before Ballard landed an in-person meeting with Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff Nick Ayers on July 24, 2018.

Two days after that powwow, Pence threatened sanctions against Turkey if it did not release U.S. Pastor Andrew Brunson, whom the Turkish government jailed in what critics called “hostage diplomacy.”

Wexler billed Halkbank the very next day, July 27, 2018, more than $12,000 on travel, and Ballard and Ayers spoke over the phone. Ballard lobbyists regularly contacted major U.S. and Turkish officials over the ensuing months, including Trump’s attorney Jay Sekulow, Pence’s chief of staff and Trump-appointed Assistant Secretary of State Wess Mitchell.

On Oct. 12, 2018, Trump dropped his sanctions threat in return for Brunson’s release. Turkey’s foreign minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu meanwhile demanded around that same time period that the United States drop its investigation into Halkbank.


Andrew Brunson, an evangelical pastor from Black Mountain, North Carolina, had been jailed in Turkey for more than one and a half years on terror and espionage charges. (AP Photo/Emre Tazegul)
“Pastor Andrew Brunson is coming home,” Pence tweeted in celebration, crediting Trump for the release of an “innocent man of faith.”

Though Trump, Pence and Sekulow touted their fortitude for the breakthrough, one of the president’s top Florida fundraisers aggressively lobbied Turkey’s position throughout this time frame. Turkey continued to hold three U.S. consulate workers in captivity with relative silence from the White House, and Halkbank kept an indictment at bay for more than two years, even after its ex-general manager Suleyman Aslan and executive Atilla had been charged with the multibillion-dollar conspiracy.

Via his organization the American Center for Law and Justice, Sekulow did not respond to a detailed inquiry asking about Trump, Pence’s and his communications with Ballard.

In addition to lobbying, Halkbank retained considerable firepower from Trump-connected Big Law.

Since 2014, Greenberg Traurig has registered as an agent of the Turkish government, and its former partner Rudy Giuliani represented gold trader Reza Zarrab, who spearheaded the Halkbank conspiracy. The firm insisted that it maintained an “ethical wall” between its legal representation and its lobbying, but critics found it difficult to discern a distinction between Giuliani’s representation of Zarrab and political advocacy.

Never appearing in court, Giuliani shuttled between Washington and Turkey’s capital of Ankara on Zarrab’s behalf. He disclosed his meetings with Erdoğan and top U.S. and Turkish diplomats in court filings. Giuliani’s Oval Office meeting with Trump to try to trade Zarrab for Brunson would come to light two years later, in news reports broken by Bloomberg and matched by The New York Times and Washington Post.

Public records corroborate those anonymously sourced accounts of White House involvement. The Post reported that the Oval Office meeting took place in the fall of 2017, around the time that records showed contacts between Ballard lobbyists and Trump’s then-deputy Sean Cairncross and assistant Reed Cordish. After meeting with Cairncross that August, Ballard emailed Cordish in October.

Reportedly a key participant in the Oval Office meeting, Giuliani would execute what critics called Trump’s “shadow diplomacy,” allegedly pushing the president’s personal interests in meetings with foreign heads of state. The former New York City mayor left Greenberg Traurig in May 2018 to work for Trump exclusively.

Other Trump-tied law firms appear in Halkbank’s orbit: Halkbank paid for McDermott Will and Emery to defend Atilla, before he was convicted. McDermott represented Trump’s ex-fixer Michael Cohen.

King & Spalding disclosed having represented Halkbank in connection with the Justice Department’s investigation in a filing revealed on Monday. The letter was signed by Andrew Hruska, a former federal prosecutor in New York who signed as an agent of the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Nov. 21, 2017.


Reza Zarrab, a gold trader at the heart of the Halkbank conspiracy, is pictured in this Dec. 17, 2013, photo surrounded by the media at a courthouse in Istanbul. (Depo Photos via AP)
Within days of that contract, Zarrab delivered testimony implicating Turkey’s president in a vast financial crime, and the firm would soon register as a foreign agent. King & Spalding’s disclosure stated the firm had been “retained to prepare and present a proposal to the U.S. Department of Justice for cooperation between the governments of the United States and Turkey regarding the handling of a U.S. legal matter.”

According to FARA records obtained by the firm Caplin & Drysdale, that matter involved an attempt to stop the Atilla case from going to trial in exchange for Turkish law enforcement cooperation on anti-Iran sanctions.

Though it reported ending its relationship with the Turkish foreign ministry on Dec. 31, 2017, King & Spalding’s relationship with Halkbank extended years longer. Titans of Turkish industry also nurtured ties with the U.S. president, whose Trump-branded towers in Istanbul are owned by Turkish media mogul Aydin Doğan. Ivanka Trump worked with Doğan’s son-in-law, Mehmet Ali Yalçındağ, who was a featured speaker this year at the 37th Annual Conference on U.S.-Turkey Relations held this past April inside Trump International Hotel.

Hosted by the non-profit American-Turkish Council — a business group described by Turkey’s state-aligned newspaper Daily Sabah as the “main Turkish lobby in the U.S.” — this year’s event took place for the second time at a Trump property and featured top United States and Turkish officials as “Distinguished Guests.” They included Erdoğan’s son-in-law Berat Albayrak, Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, and U.S. deputy energy secretary Dan Brouillette. The council did not respond to an email requesting information about financial arrangements with the Trump hotel and asking whether speakers received compensation.

On April 16, the last day of the conference, Albayrak had a private White House meeting with Trump, Kushner and Steven Mnuchin, the U.S. treasury secretary. The meeting was remarkable considering that the Treasury Department had a longstanding investigation of Halkbank, whose indictment implicated Albayrak in the scheme.

Federal prosecutors alluded to Albayrak as a “relative of the then-Prime Minister who held multiple Turkish cabinet positions.” Erdoğan was prime minister during the Halkbank scheme, and Albayrak then had been the Turkish Minister of Energy.

State and Treasury Department officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Now the finance minister, Albayrak gave Halkbank executive Hakan Atilla a hero’s welcome in Istanbul upon his release from a U.S. prison and appointed the convicted sanctions-buster the general manager of Turkey’s main stock exchange on Monday.

U.S. District Judge Richard Berman commented wryly on Turkey’s rehabilitation of the white-collar convict.

“I suppose that’s one way of integrating back into society someone who has been convicted of financial wrongdoing,” the judge quipped in court on Tuesday.

Another Ballard partner, Pam Bondi, was not involved with Turkish lobbying but was involved in a 2016 Trump-world scandal. Trump Foundation had donated $25,000 to Bondi’s re-election as Florida attorney general at the same time other state prosecutors had scrutinized Trump University. Both denied wrongdoing.
https://www.courthousenews.com/turkeys- ... ite-house/
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Re: Halkbank is now fugitive from charges & is in contempt

Postby seemslikeadream » Tue Nov 05, 2019 12:52 pm


Adam Klasfeld

Also, to be clear, the Congressional inquiries into Halkbank are completely separate from the court proceedings.

The Turkish sanctions bill includes penalties for the state-run bank.

Senator Wyden, ranking member of the Finance Committee, is also probing the Halkbank scandal.


Adam Klasfeld

NEW: Minutes before Halkbank arraignment, prosecutors present more evidence of service.

"[I]t is clear that Halkbank is aware of the indictment and the court’s summonses and is attempting to evade service."

Below: A note from bank's legal department to FedEx.
Image

Hearing to begin in roughly 15 minutes.

You can read the prosecutors' full letter with the FedEx correspondence via this link:
https://www.documentcloud.org/documents ... -5-19.html
https://twitter.com/KlasfeldReports/sta ... 1987627009
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