US judge seeks details about Zarrab’s legal fees
NEW YORKA U.S. judge on April 5 ordered that he be given more detail about former New York City mayor Rudolph Giuliani and another lawyer’s representation of a Turkish gold trader, Reza Zarrab, charged with conspiring to violate U.S. sanctions against Iran.
U.S. District Judge Richard Berman in Manhattan ordered Benjamin Brafman, an attorney for Zarrab, to say before April 18 whether Zarrab’s legal fees were being paid by someone else, and if so, who.
Berman also ordered Brafman to submit a description of the relationship between Giuliani’s law firm and Turkey, including any involvement by Giuliani himself.
Zarrab is accused of conspiring to conduct illegal transactions through U.S. banks on behalf of Iran’s government.
Berman said he needed extra information to ensure that conflicts of interest did not prevent Giuliani and former U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey from effectively representing Reza Zarrab, who is in U.S. custody.
Prosecutors said in a court filing last week that eight of the U.S. banks involved in the case were clients of Giuliani or Mukasey’s law firms, and Giuliani’s firm was a registered agent of Turkey, posing potential conflicts.
Brafman said at a court hearing on April 4 that Giuliani and Mukasey were working on a “diplomatic solution” to the case and would not represent Zarrab in court.
Giuliani, who has advised U.S. President Donald Trump, traveled to Turkey with Mukasey in late February to meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan about the case. Brafman said on April 4 that Mukasey discussed the trip in advance with U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
Berman ordered Brafman to meet with Giuliani and Mukasey and submit information on what kind of work they were hired to do for Zarrab, what kind of work their firms had done for the banks, and what the firms were doing to avoid conflicts.
Another hearing is set for April 24.
Brafman had previously argued that Zarrab’s communications with Giuliani and Mukasey were confidential. Brafman declined to comment.
In the April 5 order, Bermen sought to tamp down speculation about the politically charged case.
“It should be noted that, notwithstanding the hyperbole which principally has come from outside the courtroom, the case has progressed professionally and appropriately within the courtroom,” he said.