Zarrab loses bid to dismiss US sanctions case
NEW YORK – ReutersA U.S. judge on Oct. 17 rejected Iranian-Turkish businessman Reza Zarrab’s bid to dismiss an indictment accusing him of conspiring to conduct hundreds of millions of dollars in transactions for the Iranian government or other entities in order to evade U.S. sanctions.
U.S. District Judge Richard Berman in Manhattan denied the request by lawyers for Zarrab, who contended prosecutors had overreached when they charged a foreign citizen engaging in business abroad that is not illegal under foreign law. The request was made during Oct. 5 trial of the suspect who was arrested in Miami in March en route to Disney World with his family and was also charged with defraud U.S. banks and launder money by helping Iranian entities transfer funds through U.S. institutions.
Zarrab, 33, was the prime suspect in a corruption and bribery scandal involving the Turkish government that went public on Dec. 17, 2013. He is accused of being the ringleader of a money laundering and gold smuggling ring in Turkey that circumvented sanctions against Iran.
The charges were dismissed after prosecutors investigating the case were accused by the ruling party and then-Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of plotting against the government and removed from their posts.
Four former cabinet members – EU Minister Egemen Bağış, Economy Minister Zafer Çağlayan, Interior Minister Muammer Güler and Urban Planning Minister Erdoğan Bayraktar – were accused in the probe before the cases were dropped.
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) accused U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen’s followers of using the case to plot against the government, before launching a huge crackdown on the group in state institutions, security bodies and the private sector.