Judge Richard Berman, senior federal judge of the US District Court for the Southern District of New York, on Monday rejected a motion submitted by the lawyers of Turkish-Iranian businessman Reza Zarrab seeking the dismissal of an indictment against their client.
Zarrab, a Turkish-Iranian gold trader, was arrested in March in Miami as part of an investigation overseen by US Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara on charges of violating US sanctions against Iran.
Lawyers for Zarrab recently filed the motion seeking the dismissal of the indictment against the Turkish-Iranian businessman.
“Federal judge denies Reza Zarrab’s motion to dismiss indictment in its entirety,” announced attorney Bharara in a Twitter message on Monday.
Last month Judge Berman also rejected a demand for his recusal by Zarrab’s defense team.
Lawyers for Zarrab filed the motion in mid-September with the judge whose recusal they were seeking, 72-year-old Judge Berman. Zarrab’s defense asked Berman to recuse himself due to his participation in a UN-sponsored conference in İstanbul in 2014 that was organized by the Yüksel Karkin Law Office, allegedly linked to the Gülen movement.
Zarrab was arrested in Turkey in 2013 for bribing Turkish officials as part of an investigation implicating members of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) government and people close to then-Prime Minister and current President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. He was released after the charges were dropped. The Turkish prosecutor and the police officers responsible for the investigation were either suspended or arrested after the AKP government claimed that the corruption investigation was an attempt by Gülen sympathizers in the state bureaucracy to overthrow the government.
In June Judge Berman rejected a request for Zarrab’s release on $50 million bail and detention in a luxury apartment in Manhattan. Zarrab has spent tens of millions of dollars and created a dream team of lawyers, including criminal defense attorney Benjamin Brafman.
After several prosecutors were removed from the case in Turkey, police investigators were reassigned and the investigation into Zarrab was dropped in 2014. Berman commented on the Turkish probe, calling it “inappropriate to change the rules of the game while the game is taking place.”