The United States Attorney's Office in Manhattan has, in a letter to the Court, responded to the request of Reza Zarrab's defense counsel, for a modification of the Protective Order existing in the case, opposing any modification or removal of the restrictions, governing Discovery materials, already produced by the Government. The defense team wants to produce portions of the Discovery to fact witnesses, or third parties, in connection with its preparation of Zarrab's defense, located outside the United States.
The Government's position, in summary:
(1) The parties stipulated to the set of facts, and to the Protective Order, and such stipulations are binding in Federal criminal trials.
(2) The Court relied upon the stipulated set of facts, when it entered the Protective Order.
(3) If Zarrab has a bonafide need, he may petition the Court for authorization to disclose certain specified Discovery materials, which are prohibited by the Protective Order. However, if the individual is outside the United States, it will be impossible to enforce, as they would be outside the jurisdiction of the Court.
(4) If the Court does allow an individual, located outside the United States, to view Discovery, the US Attorney asks that his office supervise the process, so that no copying, or photography, of the materials is made, by such individual.
(5) If the Court wishes to learn specifically how disclosure of the Discovery "potentially could jeopardize the national security, and thereby undermine the Protective Order," the Government will furnish that information, in a separate, ex parte letter.
(6) The defendant has not shown any justification for a broad modification of the Protective Order.
According to the US Attorney's letter, Zarrab's witnesses are outside the United States. They may not choose to enter the jurisdiction of the Court, where there might be a sealed criminal indictment on file, against them, resulting in their arrest. The defendant himself reportedly had no idea he was under a sealed indictment, when he arrived in Miami, en route to Disney World, with his family.
It does not appear that an amicable settlement of the defense request for modification is likely, notwithstanding the parties' obligation to seek it. The Court, in an Endorsement of the Government letter, stated: "the parties should meet and confer forthwith, and should be able to resolve these issues between themselves. Please advise follow up your "meet and confer" meetings."
Exactly what are the "compelling national security interests" present in this case ? Leaving aside the defense complaint that the Government switched its argument, from revealing possible other targets, and increasing risk upon third parties, perhaps cooperating witnesses, or undercover law enforcement agents, the US State Department may consider Zarrab's broad role, in facilitating the conversion of gold, used to illegally purchase Iranian oil on the black market, into US Dollars and Euros, both currencies desperately needed by the Iranian Government, as directing affecting American national security, due to Iran's military threat status, as a clear and present danger to the United States.
According to reliable Iranian sources, and those who has contact with, or did business with, those sources abroad, a massive, ongoing Iranian evasion of the international oil sanctions resulted in oil sales in Turkey, and the covert operation of tankers on the high seas, shipping to customers in Latin America, and other regions, details of which have not been shared with the media, by the United States.
Those purchases were reportedly often made with gold, and the mission of Zarrab, and his partner, was to convert these precious metals into hard currencies. A company in Germany was involved in securing clients for the gold, which was shipped out of Turkey; some was melted down, into smaller quantities, for the specific needs of the German company's clientele. Another company in the UK had a tangental role. One must assume that the individuals operating those Western companies are targets of an ongoing investigation.
The transactions were generally on a cash basis, which resulted in the bulk cash that Zarrab's client, Iran, needed, to purchase dual-use goods, for its illegal WMD and ballistic missile programs. Zarrab was an indispensable part of the global Iran oil sanctions evasion pipeline, oil for gold- then sold for cash. Without his ability to sell off the gold, for currency, Iran would only have had a glut of gold, and no Greenbacks.
Therefore, if Zarrab was instrumental in funneling large amounts of bulk cash into Iranian hands, which was used to fund purchases for that country's ongoing weapons development programs, the US may consider the matter a sanctions violations case, directly involving the national security of America.
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