Nov 20 2017

Trump’s influence over Zarrab case limited - analyst

U.S. President Donald Trump would have difficulty in influencing the case of Iranian-Turkish gold dealer Reza Zarrab, even if it became politically expedient to do so, according to a senior analyst at the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington D.C. in an article at Muftah.

“With people already asking questions about whether Turkish influence played an inappropriate role in Trump’s decision to fire Preet Bharara [the original prosecutor on the case], it would be a politically difficult time for the administration to try to influence the course of the Southern District of New York’s work,” Nick Danforth told Claire Sadar.

However, Danforth said, the Turkish government was “also undoubtedly working behind the scenes to lobby the Trump administration on this”.

Zarrab is in the United States facing charges of sanctions-busting over the transfer of hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of gold to Iran.

A previous investigation, Sadar said, had uncovered millions of dollars allegedly paid by Zarrab to Turkish officials in exchange for these officials turning a blind eye to his illegal gold trade.

“Erdogan’s family was implicated in the investigation, but Erdogan’s personal involvement was never fully determined,” she wrote. “The then-prime minister, Erdoğan, made sure the investigation was shut down soon after it was launched, and none of the individuals implicated in the bribery were ever charged.”

The consequences of the U.S. trial, Danforth said, were likely to be explosive.

Nate Schenkkan, a project director at Freedom House, concurred.

The Zarrab case was “one of the most significant events happening in the world right now,” he said.