Arrested Turkish-Iranian businessman hires Giuliani, Mukasey in US sanctions case
NEW YORK - ReutersA Turkish gold trader’s decision to hire former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and former U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey to represent him, as he defends against charges he conspired to violate U.S. sanctions on Iran, raises a potential conflict of interest, prosecutors said.
At least eight big banks allegedly victimized by the trader, Reza Zarrab, are current or former clients of Giuliani and Mukasey’s law firms, acting U.S. Attorney Joon Kim in Manhattan said in a letter dated March 27 to the federal judge hearing the case.
A trial is scheduled for Aug. 21. Zarrab has been in federal custody since his March 21, 2016, arrest in Miami, while en route to Disney World with his wife and daughter.
Prosecutors accused the Iranian-born Zarrab and two others of engaging in hundreds of millions of dollars of transactions for Iran’s government and Iranian entities from 2010 to 2015, in a scheme to evade U.S. sanctions.
Zarrab is widely known in Turkey, as his name was embroiled into the Dec. 17-21, 2013 graft operations that involved four former ministers and other state officials.
Charges against the businessman were dropped later.
The banks’ relationships with the law firms require a special hearing, known as a “Curcio” hearing, to make sure Zarrab understands the potential conflict, Kim said.
Giuliani is a lawyer for Greenberg Traurig, while Mukasey, who is also a former federal judge, is a lawyer for Debevoise Plimpton.
“Through various deceptive acts, including layering the transactions and omitting information concerning the Iranian nexus, Zarrab and his co-conspirators allegedly tricked numerous U.S. financial institutions into processing barred transactions, thus exposing them to significant potential loss,” Kim said in a letter to U.S. District Judge Richard Berman, explaining the potential conflict of interest.
Another lawyer for Zarrab, Benjamin Brafman, said in a letter on March 27 that Giuliani and Mukasey’s roles “will not require any appearance in court and, accordingly, a hearing is not required.”