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 , 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 , 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, , 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 , and is scheduled for trial on Jan. 23.