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US attorney says Zarrab declined to seek bail, to be taken to New York

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A US attorney who is involved in a case filed against Reza Zarrab, an Iranian businessman at the center of a corruption and bribery scandal that went public on Dec. 17 2013, on charges that he and others engaged in hundreds of millions of dollars of transactions for the Iranian government to evade sanctions against the country, has said the businessman declined to seek jail.

“Reza Zarrab declines to seek bail in Florida court, to be transported to New York for further proceedings,” Preet Bharara, US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, tweeted on Friday.

Some in Turkey interpreted Zarrab’s move as an intention to cooperate with US prosecutors to secure abatement in a possible sentence he would be given.

Zarrab, 33, was arrested in Miami last month on charges contained in a federal indictment in Manhattan against him and two Iranian citizens, Kamelia Jamshidy and Hossein Najafzadeh, US prosecutors said on Monday.

Zarrab, who was accused of being the ringleader of a shady money-laundering and gold-smuggling circle in Turkey that was established to dodge sanctions against Iran, was among 21 people — including the sons of three then-ministers, a district mayor and other high-profile figures — who were arrested as part of the corruption and bribery operation that went public on Dec. 17, 2013 in a series of simultaneous police raids.

A criminal organization allegedly headed by Zarrab is claimed to have distributed at least TL 137 million ($66 million) in bribes to the former economy and interior ministers, their sons and possibly to some other bureaucrats to cloak fictitious exports and money laundering.

In documents sent by the İstanbul Prosecutor’s Office to Parliament, former ministers Zafer Çağlayan, Muammer Güler and Egemen Bağış are alleged to have accepted bribes. The ministers allegedly flew on Zarrab’s private jet several times. İstanbul prosecutors dropped the charges against the suspects in October of 2014.

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