Trump’s FBI pick from law firm that ‘helped Gülen-linked bank go international’
WASHINGTON / ANKARA
REUTERS photoU.S. President Donald Trump’s choice to lead the FBI is a white-collar defense lawyer with a strong law enforcement background. But in Turkey the nomination of Christopher Wray has raised eyebrows, with Turkish media reporting his previous involvement in helping Bank Asya, linked to the movement of U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen, open its gates to international markets.
King & Spalding, in which Wray had worked, had assisted Bank Asya in the issuance of $250 million resettable subordinated tier 2 certificates in a landmark Shari’ah-compliant capital markets transaction in April 2013, a report on the law firm’s website confirms.
The certificates, listed on the Irish Stock Exchange and due in 2023, were the first subordinated tier 2 Shariah-compliant certificates to be issued from Europe, Turkey and the Middle East, leading the way for the bank, once controlled by Gülen, to become an actor in international Islamic finance with the sukuk bond issuance.
Gülen is the leading suspect in the cases into the failed July 15, 2016 coup attempt.
The state-run Saving Deposits Insurance Fund (TMSF) seized Bank Asya on Dec. 24, 2014, before its license was totally annulled in July 2016. The bank is now on sale.
Senate Republicans and some Democrats have praised the nomination of Wray.
Trump’s announcement on June 7 came a day ahead of the ousted FBI director’s blockbuster congressional testimony about the investigation into the Trump campaign’s possible connections with Russia.
Wray was a high-ranking official in George W. Bush’s Justice Department and later represented New Jersey Governor Chris Christie in the Bridgegate scandal. Trump called him “an impeccably qualified individual.”
“I know that he will again serve his country as a fierce guardian of the law and model of integrity once the Senate confirms him to lead the FBI,” Trump said.
The choice was quickly overwhelmed by the advance release of Comey’s riveting testimony, in which he said Trump sought his loyalty at a January dinner. The former FBI chief also said he told the president three times he was not under investigation in the probe of Russian meddling in the 2016 election and possible collusion with the Trump campaign.
Trump abruptly fired Comey on May 9.
The nomination of Wray - and the Senate confirmation hearings for the 10-year post - promise days more of public discussion about Trump and Russia.
Wray said he was honored to be selected.
“I look forward to serving the American people with integrity as the leader of what I know firsthand to be an extraordinary group of men and women who have dedicated their careers to protecting this country,” he said.
Wray rose to head the Justice Department’s criminal division in the Bush administration and oversaw investigations into corporate fraud, at a time when Comey was deputy attorney general. Wray took charge of a task force of prosecutors and FBI agents created to investigate the Enron scandal.
Lawmakers had little or no advance notice of Trump’s choice. The response in the Republican-controlled Senate, where Wray would only need a simple majority vote, was supportive but cautious.
“Christopher Wray’s legal credentials and law enforcement background certainly make him a suitable candidate to lead the FBI,” said Sen. Chuck Grassley, Iowa, chairman of the Judiciary Committee.