The representative of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in Turkey has been summoned to the Directorate General of Security, Anadolu Agency reported Wednesday.
The report said the official was summoned in connection with the ongoing trial in New York of a Turkish banker who allegedly helped Iran skirt U.S. sanctions.
During the hearing on Tuesday, Gülenist Hüseyin Korkmaz testified that the FBI gave him $50,000 of “financial assistance” which he said he had not asked for, while the prosecutor’s office provided “help with his rent”.
Korkmaz, a former Turkish police officer, was also found to have removed evidence related to the case from Turkey.
Korkmaz has been an important name in the trial and has stood out with his contradictory statements, namely for completely denying while he was in Turkey that “he had anything to do with” the December 17-25 judicial coup attempt perpetrated by Gülenist terror group (FETÖ) to overthrow Turkey’s democratically elected government, but later confessing after coming to the U.S. that he was actually the investigator of the case with eight officers working under his command.
“I took my wife and my daughter and I left the country that I dearly love,” Korkmaz said. He said he eventually came to the United States with the help of U.S. law enforcement authorities, bringing audio recordings and other evidence he snuck out from Turkey.
Korkmaz was testifying in Manhattan federal court for U.S. prosecutors in the trial of Mehmet Hakan Atilla, an executive at the majority state-owned Halkbank, who is accused of taking part in a scheme with gold trader Reza Zarrab to help Iran evade U.S. sanctions.
Zarrab, a Turkish and Iranian national, has pleaded guilty and testified against Atilla, saying he used fraudulent food and gold transactions to launder money for Iran with the help of Atilla and others. Atilla has pleaded not guilty.
U.S. prosecutors have charged a total of nine people in the case. Only Zarrab, 34, and Atilla, 47, have been arrested by U.S. authorities.
Korkmaz testified on Monday that he began investigating Zarrab in 2012 for smuggling gold and money laundering. He told the jury that he never saw evidence that Atilla had taken bribes. He testified that soon after the searches, he was reassigned to another unit. He told the jury that he decided to leave Turkey in 2016 because another prosecutor had requested an order for his arrest and he did not feel safe.