Prosecutor: Zarrab indictment makes clear scheme involved individuals beyond those publicly charged
The New York South District U.S. attorney's office (SDNY) has for the first time clearly stated that the Reza Zarrab case will stretch beyond those who have so far been officially charged.
SDNY has charged a total of nine individuals, including Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's close confidant and former Economy Minister Zafer Çağlayan since Zarrab was arrested in March 19, 2016.
Zarrab was charged on 4 counts, including money laundering, in an alleged scheme to help Iran bypass U.S. sanctions against the country and the scope of the investigation was expanded again in early September.
The scheme allegedly involved ministers of then-prime minister Erdoğan's government.
The SDNY office submitted a new motion late Friday evening against the modification of the protection order which had been demanded by the lawyers of Turkish banker Mehmet Hakan Atilla.
Atilla was charged in the United States for participating the alleged sanction evasion scheme led by Zarrab.
SDNY: indictment makes clear scheme involved individuals beyond those publicly charged
In a five-page motion submitted by acting U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim, it was stated that "the fact that the Superseding Indictment (dated September 6) 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."
This represented a sharp rebuttal to defendant Atilla's argument that the investigation had come to an end.
The government added: "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 to have his case detached from that against Zarrab, the Iranian gold dealer at the centre of the alleged plot.
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 secret witnesses for the case who had not been identified yet and that the "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 the October 25 motion, the government suggested that evidence protected by the protective order is at "the heart of the indictment".
The government also claimed that more would emerge in the investigation.
Federal judge Richard Berman will soon rule whether to accept Atilla's demand to separate his case from Zarrab's.
Berman will also rule on whether to lift the protective order, a move which is being strongly opposed by the prosecutor office.
The grand jury trial is expected to start on November 27.