US Federal Judge Richard Berman postponed the trial date of Reza Zarrab, a Turkish-Iranian gold trader who was arrested in Miami in March for violating US sanctions on Iran, from Jan. 23 to Oct. 16, 2017 after Zarrab’s lawyers demanded more time for his defense.
During a hearing on Wednesday Zarrab’s lawyer Benjamin Brafman demanded extra time from the judge after new documents were added to the case by the prosecution.
Preet Bharara, the US attorney for the southern district of New York who indicted Zarrab on charges of violation of US sanctions on Iran, recently added new evidence to his indictment, claiming Deutsche Bank and Bank of America were swindled by Zarrab.
On Nov. 8, Bharara also charged Mohammad Zarrab, the brother of Reza Zarrab, with evading US sanctions on Iran in a superseding indictment accusing both men of conspiring to conduct hundreds of millions of dollars in transactions on behalf of Iran.
According to the indictment, Bharara claims that Reza Zarrab, 33, participated in transactions to benefit Iran-based Mahan Air, which the US government has sanctioned for providing services to Iran’s Quds Force as well as Hezbollah.
Despite objections from the prosecution, Judge Berman postponed the date of Zarrab’s trial to Oct. 16, when he will appear before a jury. However, procedural hearings will continue until the start of the trial.
Reza Zarrab’s trial in the US has drawn much attention in Turkey as Zarrab was briefly detained in 2013 along with others from the inner circle of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for having paid Cabinet-level officials and bank officers bribes to facilitate transactions benefiting Iran.
After then-Prime Minister and current President Erdoğan cast the case as a coup attempt to overthrow his government orchestrated by his political enemies, several prosecutors were removed from the case, police were reassigned and the investigation against Zarrab was dropped.