Reza Zarrab

Now, this is interesting. Somehow I had missed all the reports about Reza Zarrab, and he’s not on my Michael Flynn, Agent of Turkey page. I’ll fix that immediately.

The FBI arrested Iran-based Reza Zarrab in Miami in March 2016. Zarrab was accused of bank fraud and money laundering to help Turkish President Recep Erdogan and other members of the Turkish government evade US sanctions against Iran. Zarrab is currently in federal prison in Manhattan.

Turkey’s president Erdogan has made several attempts to get Zarrab released, including personally asking Vice President Joe Biden to drop the case and to fire the US Attorney leading his prosecution, Preet Bharara. (Trump fired Bharara earlier in 2017 – see Prevezon Holdings).

This related November 10 article further says that Robert Mueller is looking into whether President Erdogan offered Michael Flynn “upwards of $15 million” in December 2016 to help get Zarrab’s case dropped. It also says that Flynn’s son Michael G. Flynn may also have had a role.

Also, former New York mayor and Donald Trump ally Rudi Giuliani, and former US attorney general Michael Mukasey, are both part of Zarrab’s defense team. Giuliani and Mukasey met Erdogan in late February 2017 to try to negotiate a deal to secure Zarrab’s release.

This NY Times article about that meeting doesn’t say how two private attorneys would arrange for his release. Does the Giuliani/Mukasey team somehow have authority to speak for the Trump administration? I don’t really see how they could otherwise offer Zarrab’s release, since the US attorney prosecuting his case wasn’t involved in the negotiation.

Also, it’s not exactly clear what is meant by the Giuliani team’s statement that Zarrab’s release would be in exchange for “Turkey’s help furthering US interests.” The NY Times seems to be guessing about what Erdogan might do for the US. If it’s true that Erdogan offered Michael Flynn a $15 million bribe for this, I fear that the “US interests” in question are the bank accounts of people linked to Trump.

And Zarrab is cooperating with Mueller in his investigation. This… looks bad for the Flynns. And Erdogan. And maybe a lot of other people too. But it looks good for Zarrab, at least. The alleged money launderer is probably going to get his release after all, if not from bribing Michael Flynn, or from Erdogan… uhhh… advancing US interests, then for turning state’s evidence.

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