(Adds details on ruling, background on case)
By Nate Raymond
NEW YORK Oct 17 A U.S. judge on Monday rejected
a Turkish gold trader's bid to dismiss an indictment accusing
him of conspiring to conduct hundreds of millions of dollars in
transactions for the Iranian government and other entities in
order to evade U.S. sanctions.
U.S. District Judge Richard Berman in Manhattan denied the
request by lawyers for Reza Zarrab, who contended prosecutors
had overreached when they charged a foreign citizen engaging in
business abroad that is not illegal under foreign law.
Berman sided with prosecutors, who had contended that
Iranian-born Zarrab and others violated the law by using the
U.S. financial system to process transactions for his Iranian
clients, whose identities he concealed from U.S. banks.
"The court finds that the indictment alleges a domestic
nexus between Zarrab and his co-conspirators' conduct and the
United States, i.e. the exportation of services from the United
States," Berman wrote.
Lawyers for Zarrab did not immediately respond to requests
Zarrab, 33, was arrested in Florida in March while en route
to Disney World with his family.
He has pleaded not guilty, and is scheduled to face trial on
The case has drawn much attention in Turkey, where
prosecutors in 2013 accused Zarrab, along with others, of having
paid cabinet-level officials and bank officers bribes to
facilitate transactions benefiting Iran.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, who was then prime
minister, cast the case as a coup attempt orchestrated by his
political enemies. Several prosecutors were removed from the
case, police were reassigned, and the investigation was dropped.
In September, Erdogan, whom prosecutors say had "close ties"
to Zarrab, said he believes U.S. authorities had "ulterior
motives" in pursuing the case.
The case is U.S. v. Zarrab, U.S. District Court, Southern
District of New York, No. 15-cr-00867.
(Reporting by Nate Raymond in New York; Editing by Chizu
Nomiyama and Meredith Mazzilli)