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Prosecutor: Zarrab indictment makes clear scheme involved individuals beyond those publicly charged

Ilhan Tanir, Washington DC

The New York South District US Attorney office, for the first time, clearly stated that there are other individuals involved with the Reza Zarrab case that so far have not been officially charged. SDNY charged 9 individuals, including Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s close confidant and former Economy Minister Zafer Caglayan since the arrest of Zarrab was made in March of 2016.

Zarrab was arrested on 19 March 2016 in the United States and charged with 4 accounts, including money laundering, in an alleged racket scheme to help Iran bypass US sanctions against the country, involving ministers of the Turkish government of then prime minister and now president of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The superseding indictment in early September expanded the scope of investigation.

SDNY office submitted a new motion on late Friday evening in opposition to modifying the protective order which was demanded by the lawyers of Turkish banker Mehmet Hakan Atilla. Atilla was charged in the United States participating the alleged sanction evasion scheme led by Reza Zarrab.

SDNY: indictment makes clear scheme involved individuals beyond those publicly charged

In 5 page motion submitted by acting U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim, stated that “the fact that the Superseding Indictment (September 6th dated) contains additional detail about the criminal conduct does not mean that every aspect of the Government’s investigation has been laid bare.. Indeed, the Superseding Indictment makes clear that the alleged scheme involved individuals beyond those whom the Government has publicly charged.”

Sharp rebuttal against defendant Atilla’s argument that the investigation has come to an end, the government said: “Put bluntly, Atilla’s bald declaration that the Government’s investigation has come to an end is nothing but incorrect speculation.”

Atilla has been trying his case be detached from that against an Iranian gold dealer at the centre of the alleged plot which has helped widen a diplomatic rift between Washington and Ankara.

Earlier in the week, the motion submitted by Atilla’s lawyers asserted that the prosecution had not stated a connection between Hakan Atilla, former deputy general manager of Turkish state-owned Halkbank, and Reza Zarrab’s alleged scheme to trade gold from Turkey for Iranian oil.

The government hints it may have secret witnesses and sources

In the motion, the government also hinted it may have some secret witnesses for the case that has not been identified yet and “dissemination of discovery material” by the defense may endanger them:

“Even though the discovery itself may not identify an individual as a potential Government witness or source,, elements of the discovery itself,, such as which records are subpoenaed or collected by the Government or which records are in the Government’’ s possession,, can tip off a knowing reviewer to the fact that the individual has provided information to the Government,, which could lead to threats or intimidation against that potential witness..”

In October 25 motion, the government suggested that evidences which are protected by the protective order are at “the heart of the indictment.”

The government also claimed that not everything came out in the investigation yet.

The federal judge Richard Berman will rule whether to accept Atilla’s demand to separate his case from Zarrab’s. Berman will also rule whether to lift the protective order which is strongly opposed by the prosecutor office.

Grand jury trial is expected to start on November 27th.

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