Zarrab jury trial suspended by nine months
Tolga Tanış / Razi Canikligil – NEW YORKA jury trial against Turkish-Iranian businessman Reza Zarrab that was scheduled to begin on Jan. 23, 2017, has been suspended until Oct. 16 after the judge in the fraud case ruled that the defendant’s legal team required extra time to prepare for an additional indictment regarding Zarrab’s alleged ties to Hezbollah.
Zarrab, a gold trader in Turkey with dual Turkish-Iranian citizenship, was arrested in March when he arrived in Florida for a family vacation.
Prosecutors charged him with conspiring to violate U.S. sanctions and help Iranian entities conduct hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of financial transactions through U.S. banks.
In a hearing held on Nov. 30, the case’s judge, Richard Berman, agreed to suspend the trials despite objections by prosecutors, arguing that Zarrab’s side needed to prepare for the additional indictment presented on Nov. 7, which accused Zarrab of terror acts linked to Hezbollah.
During the trial, the case’s prosecutor, Preet Bharara, presented documents evidencing how Zarrab defrauded Bank of America and Deutsche Bank, as he showed that between 2007 and 2015, the suspect used the two banks to conduct 1.5 billion dollars in transactions for 10 firms.
Bharara also revealed the names of the U.S. banks that have been used for Zarrab’s illegal transactions to this date. According to the list, the banks are JPMorgan Chase Bank, Citibank, HSBC, Standard Chartered, Banca Intesa, Bank of New York Mellon, Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi New York, Commerzbank, UBS and Wells Fargo.
Bharara also revealed that along with Bank of America and the Deustche Bank, six other banks included in the list were all defended by the same law firm, Kirkland & Ellis, which is also defending Zarrab with four lawyers.
Zarrab’s lawyers presented letters to the court attesting to the fact that Bank of America and Deustche Bank accepted the situation provided there is an “information wall” between the firm’s lawyers defending the two rival sides.
Zarrab was also asked whether he was aware of the fact and wished to continue the trial with the lawyers. After receiving Zarrab’s consent, the court adjourned the hearing until Dec. 14, asking the defendant side to present similar consent letters from the six other banks regarding the issue.
Meanwhile, it was revealed that U.S. President-elect Donald Trump met with Bharara and demanded that he continue his duty as prosecutor during the term of the new government. Bharara was expected to resign at the commencement of the Trump term as he was appointed by the Barack Obama administration.