Ilhan TanırBenjamin Brafman, the main defendant for the Turkish/Iranian gold trader Reza Zarrab who is accused of conspiring to evade US sanctions against Iran, informed the court that his client would not be proceeding with the Suppression Hearing.
Zarrab, the owner of Royal Holdings A.S., is accused of using U.S. banks through his network of companies in the United Arab Emirates and Turkey to launder hundreds of millions of dollars worth of transactions that violated international sanctions against Iran. Zarrab was arrested in March 2016 upon entering U.S. for a family trip. At the time of Zarrab arrest, there were a lot of speculations over why he would choose coming to US. Some argued he came to US for a deal deal, others claimed he was tricked by US officials.
FBI was able to grant a FISA warrant over Zarrab’s ‘hotmail’ adress since September 2014, using Turkish Police Report of December 18, 2013. Zarrab’s defense argued that accusations against him and other AKP members were politically motivated and dismissed later on, so the ‘search warrant’ on his emails should be also dismissed and all evidence obtained through the warrant also should be disqualified.
Zarrab’s lawyers had also filed a motion to suppress his iPhone data and his e-mails in July 2016. His attorneys argued that Mr. Zarrab willingly gave the passcode for his iPhone to a customs officer before he was Mirandized by the FBI agents.
A routine customs inquiry does not require Miranda warnings.
In a statement filed in court, Mr. Zarrab said, that he provided the passcode to the agent, feeling that he “had no choice.” Zarrab also testified that the agent left the room with his iPhone. Mr. Zarrab said: “I did not know that I had the right to not provide the agent with my passcode to my iPhone. I was not advised of my right to remain silent or my right to an attorney.”
Mr. Zarrab also said that he unwittingly answered an FBI agent’s questions about his assets, businesses, and bank accounts before asking for a lawyer for a second time.
Mr. Zarrab who recently acquired former New York City mayor Rudolph Giuliani and former U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey to defend him was a key figure in a 2013 Turkish scandal and was accused of bribing the cabinet ministers in a gold-trading operation worth at least $12 billion. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called the investigation a coup attempt, and all charges against Zarrab and the cabinet ministers were eventually dropped.
Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Mukasey, met with the Turkish President earlier this year and told the court that they were trying to negotiate a “political solution” to Mr. Zarrab’s case that would benefit both countries.
Mr. Zarrab’s motion to suppress hearing was scheduled for May 18th, next day of Mr. Erdogan’s arrival to Washington for a White House visit with Mr. Trump.
It is unknown at this point why would Zarrab want to cancel the hearing. If the hearing were to be held, it was almost certain that many of December 17, 25 corruption claims would be again discussed, but this time in front of the US media at a US court.
Judge Berman got more questions for Giuliani
On the same day, May 5th the court also asked Mr. Zarrab’s lawyers Rudolph Giuliani and Michael Mukasey, to submit some additional documents. During the May 2nd pre-Curcio hearing, Mr. Brafman told the court that Mr. Giuliani represented the US interests at different times and different capabilities both pro-bono and quid pro quo.
Mr. Giuliani is also known Mr. Trump’s cyber security adviser as of now while trying to negotiate with the Trump government on Zarrab.
Judge Richard M. Berman, who accused Giuliani and Mukasey of being “surprisingly disingenuous” in their affidavits, wanted the lawyers to deliver the court a list of matters that they personally, or through their firms, represented the United States and any of its agencies paid or pro-bono.