News : Sanctions

U.S. Accuses Turkish Gold Trader of Conspiracy to Violate U. S. Sanctions on Iran

 By INU Staff  

INU -  On October 17, Benjamin Weiser wrote for an article for the New York Times about Turkish gold trader, Reza Zarrab, who has been jailed in New York. 

A federal judge in Manhattan refused to dismiss an indictment against him on charges that he conspired to violate United States sanctions on Iran.

Mr. Zarrab, 33, stands accused of facilitating millions of dollars in transactions on behalf of Iran and other sanctioned entities through the use of false documentation and front companies, as well as conspiracy  to commit money laundering and bank fraud. 

Attorneys for Zarrab called for dismissal of the indictment, saying that the government’s case was unprecedented” and a prosecutorial overreach of the first order.” 

Richard M. Berman of Federal District Court rejected the defense arguments, ruling that the indictment clearly set forth the required elements for the charges. “The dismissal of an indictment is an ‘extraordinary remedy’ reserved only for extremely limited circumstances implicating fundamental rights,” he wrote. 

The case is watched closely in Turkey, where in 2013, Zarrab, who has pleaded ‘not guilty’ to his current charges, was detained by the authorities during a corruption investigation of businessmen with close links to Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who then prime minister and now the country’s president. 

According to Turkish news reports, Mr. Erdogan raised Zarrab’s case with Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. during talks at the United Nations.   Mr. Erdogan said there were malicious intentions” in the prosecution of Zarrab. 

Zarrab’s lawyers, in seeking dismissal, argued that the United States sanctions laws are limited to U.S. persons and exports from the U.S.” The prosecutor’s efforts to extend those laws in Zarrab’s case,is not only unjustified and a due process violation, it is a dangerous extension of U.S. law that should not be allowed.” 

The office of the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara, asked the judge to deny the defense motion. What arguably is unprecedented about this case is the scope, complexity and reach of the defendant’s own unlawful scheme, and his level of access to both Iranian and Turkish government officials and to banks to arrange and facilitate that scheme.” 

Neither Benjamin Brafman, a lawyer for Zarrab, nor Mr. Bharara’s office commented on the judge’s ruling. 


Zarrab is being detained without bail, and is scheduled for trial on Jan. 23.