Giuliani says U.S. open to deal on Turkish gold trader case

Reuters News
Posted: Apr 20, 2017 11:37 AM

By Nathan Layne

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, hired to resolve criminal charges against Turkish gold trader Reza Zarrab, said in an affidavit that senior U.S. officials are open to a deal that would help his client while promoting the security interests of the United States.

In a filing in Manhattan federal court made public late on Wednesday, Giuliani said both U.S. and Turkish officials remained "receptive" to a diplomatic solution due to the nature of the charges against Zarrab and the perceived importance of Turkey as a geopolitical ally.

"That receptiveness is hardly surprising when one considers that none of the transactions in which Mr. Zarrab is alleged to have participated involved weapons or nuclear technology, or any other contraband, but rather involved consumer goods, and that Turkey is situated in a part of the world strategically critical to the United States," Giuliani said.

The affidavit was submitted ahead of a hearing on Monday being held to ensure that Zarrab understands potential conflicts of interest inherent in hiring Giuliani, an adviser to President Donald Trump, and Michael Mukasey, former U.S. Attorney General, to represent him.

Prosecutors have raised concerns about possible conflicts because eight of the U.S. banks involved in the case have been clients of Giuliani or Mukasey's law firms. They have also cited the work of Giuliani's firm, Greenberg Traurig LLP, as a registered agent of Turkey.

Zarrab is accused of conspiring to conduct illegal transactions through U.S. banks on behalf of Iran's government, violating U.S. sanctions. Prosecutors have filed similar charges against Mehmet Hakan Atilla, an executive at Turkish state-owned bank Halkbank. Both men have pleaded not guilty.

The case has raised concerns at the highest levels of Turkish power. Last month Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu called Atilla's arrest "political", while President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused U.S. authorities of having "ulterior motives" in prosecuting Zarrab.

Both Giuliani and Mukasey, who also submitted an affidavit, said they did not see any conflicts of interest in their work representing Zarrab but promised not do any work for any of the banks in question while the Zarrab case was ongoing.

They both said Zarrab was paying his own legal bills.

(reporting by Nathan Layne in New York; Editing by David Gregorio)