Sunday, July 31, 2016


The trial judge in the Iran sanctions violation case against Reza Zarrab, the Turkish-Iranian businessman and trader who figured recently in a major corruption case, involving the sons of Turkey's elite, has scheduled the pending motion to dismiss for oral argument, before District Judge Richard Berman, on September 6, 2016. We have previously detailed the defense position, which makes a persuasive argument for the position that a participant in a strictly foreign transaction, with no US buyers, sellers or banks, on the mix, is not liable for violations of American sanctions laws against Iran. See, Attorneys for Iran Sanctions Evader Zarrab file Motion to Dismiss Indictment, (July 22, 2016). The Court has given the US Attorney's Office until July 20th to respond to the motion.

There is another pending motion, which will also be heard at that time; the defendant's motion to suppress statements, and evidence obtained, when he was detained, upon arrival in the United States, for a family vacation. He was reportedly forced to give up the security passcode on his smartphone, and financial information was then accessed from it.  This reportedly occurred when he was initially detained, but not yet under arrest, though it appears that he was not free to leave.

He was also ordered to disclose information about his income, assets, and businesses, before his actual arrest by the FBI. All these prior acts appear to have been conducted by US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and the defense motion has attacked these methods, and stated that, since all the evidence obtained is tainted, that it, and his statements, be excluded, as an unconstitutional search and seizure, pursuant to the US Supreme Court ruling in Wong Sun vs. United States, in which the evidence, which was judged to be the "fruit of the poisonous tree," was excluded.

Did overzealous US law enforcement agents violate Zarrab's rights ? Remember, as a gold trader, Zarrab, was reportedly a principal facilitator in enabling Iran to sell it soil, an evade international sanctions, and the figure of $300m has been the estimated amount of the sales he participated in. When he, fortuitously, came into the jurisdiction of the United States, their enthusiasm at his detention may have affected  a decision to seek to interrogate him, upon arrival.

In any event, the disposition of both motions is critical to the movement of the case to trial, and we shall be reporting upon the Court's rulings in September.

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