US court pushes Zarrab trial to June
A court in New York has ruled to postpone the trial of Iranian-Turkish businessman Reza Zarrab until June 16, after convening on April 27 to try the suspect who was arrested in Miami a month ago for attempting to evade U.S. sanctions on Iran.
Zarrab was on the dock today following a four-leg transfer journey from Miami. He was transferred to New York by plane from Oklahoma City Federal Prison after a week.
Meanwhile, officials said Zarrab was held in a cell in Manhattan.
The U.S. attorney for the southern district of New York, Preet Bharara, who has garnered fame in Turkey after launching the investigation into Zarrab, also announced the businessman’s forthcoming appearance in court on his Twitter account.
Zarrab was arrested in the U.S. last month 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.
Meanwhile, daily Habertürk reported on April 27 that the controversial box seat owned by Zarrab at the Beşiktaş football club’s long-awaited new stadium has been sold for $500,000 after the parties reached a mutual agreement. Zarrab’s purchase of the box seat had hit headlines last year after allegations he paid some 1.2 million Turkish Liras to own one of the 147 box seats in the brand new stadium, which was under construction at the time but has since opened.
Habertürk quoted anonymous sources in its report, suggesting the new owner paid around $500,000 to watch the Black Eagles in luxury for the next three years. The box was sold only after Zarrab and the Beşiktaş administration reached a mutual agreement, according to the report, which added that Zarrab’s previous payment was returned in full.
Beşiktaş expects to garner an annual income of $50 to 60 million from the newly-inaugurated Vodafone Arena, in addition to a $10 million annual income from the 147 box seats.
Beşiktaş President Fikret Orman faced a mountain of criticism after reports surfaced a box seat had been purchased by Zarrab, who became controversial figure after he was detained for two months in Turkey as the prime suspect in the country’s largest-ever graft probe.
Meanwhile, daily Hürriyet reported on April 27 that destruction work had begun on the unlicensed stories of Zarrab’s historic mansion in Istanbul’s Kandilli neighborhood.
The mansion, which Zarrab bought for $25 million, was locked up and sealed in February 2015 after main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputies Hüseyin Sağ and Hakkı Sağlam filed a criminal complaint for the unlicensed stories.