Turkish Businessman Arrested Over Iran Sanctions Violations

Image U.S. authorities arrested a Turkish businessman on charges alleging he engaged in a scheme to help the Iranian government evade U.S. and international sanctions. Reza Zarrab was arrested Saturday in Miami and charged in an indictment unsealed Monday in New York federal court alleging he engaged in hundreds of millions of dollars worth of transactions between 2010 and 2015 on behalf of Iran’s government and other entities, laundered the proceeds and defrauded financial institutions by concealing the nature of the transactions. Two others, Iranians Camelia Jamishidy and Hossein Najafzadeh, were also charged in the indictment; they both are at large, prosecutors said.

“These defendants conspired for years to violate and evade U.S. sanctions against Iran and Iranian entities,” said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, in a statement.

Mr. Zarrab couldn’t be reached.

The alleged scheme was part of an international effort to assist the Iranian government in evading sanctions, prosecutors said, citing among other things a letter drafted for Mr. Zarrab’s signature addressed to the general manager of Iran’s central bank that said the Zarrab family “considers it to be our national and moral duty to declare our willingness” to partake in any effort to counteract sanctions on Iran.

Among the beneficiaries of the alleged scheme, prosecutors said, was Bank Mellat and Mellat Exchange, a money service business it owns, as well as the National Iranian Oil Co., Naftiran Intertrade Co. and others. They were under sanctions at the time of the alleged offenses, but are no longer, prosecutors said, noting they, however, remain “blocked parties.”

Mr. Zarrab was reportedly at the center of a massive corruption scandal in Turkey involving a gold trade that helped Iran evade sanctions. At the time, his lawyer declined to comment. He has since filed a complaint in Istanbul court accusing six people of blackmailing him. That case, according to Turkish media reports, is ongoing.

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Last modified onSaturday, 06 May 2017 10:07