Turkish Bank Tied To Giuliani Client Indicted In Money Laundering Scheme
Reports surfaced last week that President Donald Trump tried in 2017 to get former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to convince the Justice Department to drop a case against one of Rudy Giuliani’s clients — an Iranian-Turkish gold trader named Reza Zarrab.
Zarrab allegedly was connected to a money laundering scheme involving a Turkish bank, and his release was reportedly a high priority for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Now, that bank — known as Halkbank — has been indicted on six counts of "fraud, money laundering, and sanctions offenses related to the bank’s participation in a multibillion-dollar scheme to evade U.S. sanctions on Iran," according to Axios.
Trump reportedly has taken great interest in the case. Apart from his unsuccessful attempt to have Tillerson intervene, the president also reportedly informed Senator Lindsey Graham as recently as August that he seeks to do anything in his power to assist in the matter.
Zarrab eventually pleaded guilty and testified against Halkbank’s CEO, Axios noted, alleging at the time that "Erdogan knew of and supported the laundering effort on behalf of Iran."
Just after the gold trader’s arrest in 2016, “Erdogan pressured the Obama administration to release him — and to fire the U.S. attorney who brought charges against Zarrab, Preet Bharara,” The Washington Post noted, adding that Trump finally came through on the action in March 2017.
Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers said of the case: "Halkbank, a Turkish state-owned bank, allegedly conspired to undermine the United States Iran sanctions regime by illegally giving Iran access to billions of dollars’ worth of funds, all while deceiving U.S. regulators about the scheme. This is one of the most serious Iran sanctions violations we have seen, and no business should profit from evading our laws or risking our national security."