Court demands Zarrab’s ‘other passports’ ahead of bail decision
NEW YORKThe New York judge seeing the case against Iranian-Turkish businessman Reza Zarrab, who was arrested for attempting to evade U.S. sanctions on Iran, has said the court demanded to see all three of the suspect’s passports, as the defendant expects a response to his bail demand in the coming days.
Judge Richard Berman said the court wanted to receive the passports currently held by Zarrab’s lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, and the chief prosecutor’s office by June 13 at 12:00 p.m. The passports are expected to be returned to pretrial service after being evaluated.
Other than his Turkish passport, Zarrab also holds Iranian and Macedonian passports. Brafman had said Zarrab’s Turkish passport was with the prosecutor’s office and that he wanted to hand his Iranian and Macedonian passports to the office as well. The office of the case’s prosecutor said that during his detention in Miami, Zarrab handed over only his Turkish passport and did not mention his other passports, thus claiming that Zarrab did not behave honestly regarding the issue.
In a bid to counter the bail demand from Zarrab’s side, the prosecutor of the case, Preet Bhrara, presented a series of documents to buttress his claims that the suspect was a flight risk if he was to be released from jail.
Before submitting his 222-page document demonstrating the defendant’s language proficiencies, which were contrary to Brafman’s claims, Bharara had submitted a document to court on June 1, saying that Zarrab was a flight risk and may never appear in front of a U.S. court if he was released on bail due to his substantial family and business contacts abroad. He previously asserted that Zarrab had passports from three countries, enabling him to easily travel to countries from which he could not be extradited.
Zarrab was the prime suspect in a corruption and bribery scandal involving the Turkish government that went public on Dec. 17, 2013.
The businessman was accused of being the ringleader of a money laundering and gold smuggling ring in Turkey that circumvented sanctions against Iran. The charges were dismissed after the prosecutors investigating case were accused by the ruling party and then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of plotting against the government and removed from their posts.
Four former cabinet members, EU Minister Egemen Bağış, Economy Minister Zafer Çağlayan, Interior Minister Muammer Güler and Urban Planning Minister Erdoğan Bayraktar, were accused in the probe before they were acquitted.