By Nathan Layne
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani went to Turkey to meet with the country’s president and sought to meet with US government officials in an attempt to end the prosecution of a Wealthy Turkish gold trader accused of conspiring to violate US sanctions Iran, federal prosecutors in Manhattan said.
The moves were revealed in a letter Friday to US District Judge Richard Berman, who is overseeing the case in which the merchant, Reza Zarrab, is accused of conspiring with others to conduct illegal transactions through US banks on behalf of the US government. Iran and other Iranians. entities.
The new revelations highlight the politically charged nature of a case that expanded in scope earlier this week with the arrest in New York of an executive of a Turkish state bank accused of conspiring with Zarrab to evade sanctions.
Zarrab, a dual national of Iran and Turkey, had been arrested in 2013 in a corruption investigation of people with close ties to Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who was Prime Minister of Turkey at the time. Erdogan is currently president.
In the letter, prosecutors said Giuliani and former United States Attorney General Michael Mukasey, both recently on Zarrab’s legal team, traveled to Turkey shortly after February 24 to meet with Erdogan and discuss ways to end to processing. Giuliani informed Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ office of the planned trip, according to the letter.
Acting US Attorney Joon Kim in Manhattan said Mukasey and Giuliani, who is a close ally of President Donald Trump, had also sought to meet with other US government officials on the issue. “Giuliani and Mukasey’s efforts are aimed at reaching a disposition in the case,” Kim wrote in the letter.
Kim has tried to question whether Giuliani and Mukasey should be able to represent Zarrab given potential conflicts of interest. Zarrab allegedly victimized at least eight large banks that are current or former clients of Giuliani and Mukasey’s law firms.
Kim had called earlier this week for a special hearing to make sure Zarrab understands the potential conflict.
Benjamin Brafman, Zarrab’s attorney, responded in a letter to the court on Friday, saying that he would consent to a limited hearing, but emphasized that he believed the prosecution had no right to challenge Giuliani and Mukasey’s actions.
“Frankly, that information is not a government business,” Brafman wrote.
(Reporting by Nathan Layne; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Mary Milliken)
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