The trial judge in the Reza Zarrab Iran sanctions case has sent detailed, written, supplemental questions to counsel for all the parties, in connection with the pending Government motion to disqualify a number of the defense attorneys, due to a claim of conflict of interest. The Court's order also raises peripheral issues, that are outside of the outside of the subject of the motion, and which may indicate its concerns.
(1) Is there not an inconsistency between statements regarding the the position of the defense, in its motion to dismiss, and the statement that defense counsel could not advance any defense, strategy or argument adverse to the position of the banks ? (The Court is also apparently interested in the issue regarding whether, if the banks made a profit, is this a defense due to a lack of intent to a bank fraud charge ?)
(2) Are the efforts of the defense attorneys, in this case, to keep the monitor's report in the HSBC case, sealed, not adverse to their obligations to Zarrab in the criminal case ? Remember also, HSBC is said to have intentionally flouted the sanctions, in its operations. Again, we return to the motion to dismiss, is the Court now questioning the sufficiency of the charges?)
(3) If defense counsel is able to breach the "Chinese Wall" erected between the bank and defense lawyers at the same law firm, at its election, is there really an ethical wall ?
(4) What is the significance here, of the fact that HSBC deliberately and intentionally evaded Iran sanctions, on a grand scale ?
(5) What is the significance to these proceedings, of the fact that the Government previously identified HSBC as a victim bank ?
Is the Court now truly questioning the legal sufficiency of the case, or is it just throwing these issues out, in order to come to a decision solely on the conflict of interest issue ? Counsel for all the parties must submit their responses by January 25, 2017.