By Ilhan Tanir, Washington, DCRudy Giuliani is citing national security as he downplays a criminal case brought against a prominent Turkish businessman who is now the former New York mayor’s legal client, AP reported.
Zarrab, who is an Iranian-born Turkish businessman, has been arrested in Florida March of 2016 on charges that he and others conspired to conduct hundreds of millions, according to some estimates, billions of dollars in financial transactions for the Iranian government or other entities to evade U.S. sanctions.
In court papers unsealed late Wednesday, Giuliani says senior U.S. and Turkey officials are receptive to resolving the case. Giuliani and former Attorney General Michael Mukasey (myoo-KAY’-zee) say in separate affidavits that an agreement could promote U.S. security, US press reported.
The papers were filed after a Manhattan federal court judge asked questions about the role Giuliani and Mukasey are playing in Zarrab’s defense.
The judge has noted that Giuliani’s law firm is a registered agent of Turkey in the last trial, and both men work for firms that have represented banks in the case.
Zarrab will be in the Southern District court of New York on April 24th and it will be decided if his new defense lawyers Mukasey and Giuliani are ethically compliant to this trial.
Giuliani, hired to resolve criminal charges against Turkish gold trader Reza Zarrab, said in an affidavit that senior U.S. officials are open to a deal that would help his client while promoting the security interests of the United States.
In a filing in Manhattan federal court made public late on Wednesday, according to Reuters, Giuliani said both U.S. and Turkish officials remained “receptive” to a diplomatic solution due to the nature of the charges against Zarrab and the perceived importance of Turkey as a geopolitical ally.
Giuliani says Zarrab is involved only with consumer goods
“That receptiveness is hardly surprising when one considers that none of the transactions in which Mr. Zarrab is alleged to have participated involved weapons or nuclear technology, or any other contraband, but rather involved consumer goods, and that Turkey is situated in a part of the world strategically critical to the United States,” Giuliani said.
Indictment says Zarrab’s transactions involved arms shipments, supporting Hizballah
Giuliani may be mistaken by claiming that Zarrab’s transactions only involved of consumer goods. Contrary to Giuliani claims, in November superseding indictment, then US Attorney Preet Bharara accused Zarrab of benefiting Iranian government, entities affiliated with the Iranian government, but also Hizballah, wrote:
- Mahan Air, an Iranian airline designated by the United States Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”), as a Specially Designated National (“SDN”) pursuant to Executive Order 13224 for providing financial, material, and technological support to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (“IRGC-QF”), and providing transportation services to Hizballah, a Lebanon-based designated Foreign Terrorist Organization, including by transporting personnel, weapons and goods on behalf of Hizballah and omitting from Mahan Air cargo manifests secret weapons shipments bound for Hizballah;
Also, in the same indictment,
- Bank Mellat, an Iranian government-owned bank designated as an SDN under the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations, the Iranian Financial Sanctions Regulations, and the Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferators Sanctions Regulations; Mellat Exchange, an Iranian money services business owned and controlled by Bank Mellat;
- the National Iranian Oil Company (“NIOC”), identified by OFAC as an agent or affiliate of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp; the Naftiran Intertrade Company Ltd., Naftiran Intertrade Company Sarl, and Hong Kong Intertrade Company, companies located in the United Kingdom, Switzerland, and Hong Kong that were acting on behalf of NIOC; and
In the same indictment, Zarrab is accused of helping again Mahan Air by his transactions, which is
“providing travel services to IRGC-QF personnel flown to and from Iran and Syria for military training, aiding the covert travel of suspected IRGC-QF officers into and out of Iraq by bypassing normal security procedures, and facilitating IRGC-QF arms shipments.”
So it is not only consumer goods and some innocent transactions but Zarrab and his Company are already accused of providing military work, including arms shipments to Hizballah, which is considered a terrorist organization by the US.
One wonders if Giuliani even read the indictment yet?
Last August, when the Obama administration returned $440 million from frozen Iranian bank accounts to Iran as part of the international deal to shutter Iran’s nuclear weapons program, Giuliani said, as Alternet reported, “I call that trading with the enemy.”
Zarrab’s transactions to evade Iranian sanctions believed to be standing at billions.