Bharara to do what is takes to hold Zarrab accountable, US Iran expert says
İpek Yezdani – ISTANBULRichard Nephew, a former director for Iran at the U.S. National Security Council who is currently a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, has told daily Hürriyet in an exclusive interview that U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara will do all it takes to hold Turkish-Iranian businessman Reza Zarrab accountable, as evading sanctions on Iran is a serious crime in the U.S.
“Sanctions evasion is something we take very seriously and misuse of the U.S. financial system is something we take very, very seriously. It is an important national asset. Having a financial system that people can trust, people think that it is fair, that people think it is free from criminal activity is an important element of U.S. security and U.S. economy. From that perspective, you are going to see the U.S. prosecutor [Bharara] take it very seriously, he is going to try and find out what he can about what was involved in the crime and to hold [Mr. Zarrab] accountable for it, assuming he is found guilty,” said Nephew during the interview.
Zarrab was arrested in the U.S. in March on charges that he conspired to conduct hundreds of millions of dollars in financial transactions for the Iranian government or other entities to evade U.S. sanctions.
He is widely known in Turkey, as his name was embroiled in the Dec. 17-25, 2013, graft operations that involved four former Justice and Development Party (AKP) ministers and other state officials.
To a question on whether the investigation might cover the banks which were consciously involved in the money transactions made when the crimes were committed, Nephew said it was a critical question and would depend on whether or not there were any banks consciously contributing to criminal activity.
“It is entirely possible to me that every bank associated with this transaction did not know that it was facilitating criminal conduct. Banks can be taken advantage of. And the indictment released by the minister of justice says: ‘Deceptive use of financial institutions.’ And that doesn’t mean just U.S. [financial institutions], it could also be Turkish financial institutions and financial institutions around the world. If there were to be evidence that banks aided, they worked with Zarrab in order to avoid U.S. sanctions, they could be held liable,” said Nephew.