Zarrab went to US on purpose, claims Iranian lawmaker
ISTANBULIranian-Turkish businessman Reza Zarrab went to the U.S. knowing he was going to be arrested, according to Amir Abbas Soltani, an Iranian lawmaker and a member of the parliamentary committee tasked with pursuing the case of Babek Zanjani, another Iranian tycoon and Zarrab’s alleged partner, who was sentenced to death in Iran for fraudulently pocketing $2.8 billion.
“Zarrab intentionally visited the U.S. and surrendered himself based on a premeditated plan. Following Zanjani’s case in Iran, he sensed a lurking threat awaiting him. He thought he would be captured by Iranian officials if he stayed in Turkey,” Soltani told Al-Monitor.
Soltani added, “Zarrab sought a safe haven by going to the United States. Our judiciary officials were pursuing his case. The situation in Turkey wasn’t good for him as Tehran and Ankara’s relationship improved.
If he were found guilty by Iran’s judiciary, based on our agreements with Turkey, he would have had to be extradited to Tehran.”
According to Soltani, “Zarrab knew that there is no extradition agreement between Iran and the U.S. That is why he decided to go to the United States. He is waiting to see when it will all blow over to and what will happen to Zanjani. If he [Zanjani] gets executed, Zarrab can deny a lot of the facts after Zanjani’s death.”
In Soltani’s telling, “Zarrab is a close confidant of Zanjani as well as a senior manager of his companies. They both established more than 70 companies, and many of them were administrated by Zarrab.”
Soltani told Al-Monitor there were more than 30 charges against Zanjani and Zarrab, including “stealing the Iranian Oil Ministry’s money.”
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.