Iranian-Turkish businessman Reza Zarrab pleads not guilty to US charges over sanctions

Published 27.04.2016 20:06
Updated 27.04.2016 20:09

Iranian-Turkish businessman Reza Zarrab pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to charges that he and others conspired to conduct hundreds of millions of dollars in financial transactions to help the Iranian government or other entities evade U.S. sanctions.

Zarrab entered the plea at a hearing before Judge Richard Berman in U.S. District Court in Manhattan. He was arrested last month in Miami.

"We are pleased that Mr. Zarrab has finally arrived in New York so we can begin the process of defending this case," Zarrab's attorney, Benjamin Brafman, told reporters outside the court room. "We believe the charges are very defensible."

Brafman said he expected to offer a "significant bail package" within 10 days.

Zarrab, 33, was charged in an indictment last month along with one of his employees, Kamelia Jamshidy, and Hossein Najafzadeh, a senior officer at a unit of Bank Mellat in Iran. The other two defendants, both Iranian, remain at large.

Zarrab, Jamshidy and Najafzadeh are being accused of engaging in hundreds of millions of dollars-worth of transactions on behalf of the government of Iran and other Iranian entities, which were barred by U.S. sanctions, laundering the proceeds of those illegal transactions and defrauding several financial institutions by concealing the true nature of these transactions.

Zarrab's arrest came two months after world powers, led by the United States and the European Union, lifted crippling sanctions against Iran in return for curbs on its nuclear ambitions.

The case is U.S. v. Zarrab, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 15-cr-867.

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