Oct 15, 2019

Turkish bank tied to Giuliani client indicted in money laundering scheme

Reza Zarrab. Photo: Ozan Kose/AFP/Getty Images

A Turkish bank known as Halkbank has been charged in a 6-count indictment for "fraud, money laundering, and sanctions offenses related to the bank’s participation in a multibillion-dollar scheme to evade U.S. sanctions on Iran," federal prosecutors in New York announced on Tuesday.

Why it matters: Bloomberg reported last week that in 2017, President Trump pressed former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to help convince the Justice Department to drop a sanctions evasion case against an Iranian-Turkish gold trader named Reza Zarrab — a client of Rudy Giuliani's whose case was a high priority for Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Zarrab later pleaded guilty and testified against the CEO of Halkbank, also alleging that "Erdogan knew of and supported the laundering effort on behalf of Iran."

"Halkbank, a Turkish state-owned bank, allegedly conspired to undermine the United States Iran sanctions regime by illegally giving Iran access to billions of dollars’ worth of funds, all while deceiving U.S. regulators about the scheme. This is one of the most serious Iran sanctions violations we have seen, and no business should profit from evading our laws or risking our national security."
— Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers

Go deeper: WaPo breaks down Giuliani and Trump's connections to Zarrab

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Iran to inject uranium gas in further break from nuclear deal

Iran's President Hassan Rouhani speaks at parliament in the capital Tehran. Photo: Atta Kenare/AFP via Getty Images

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announced Tuesday Iran would "resume uranium enrichment" at its Fordow plant and begin injecting uranium gas into 1,044 centrifuges, Iranian state media reports.

Why it matters: The announcement coincided with the first anniversary of the Trump administration's "maximum pressure" campaign against Iran. Axios contributor Barak Ravid notes the announced plans are a substantial breach of Iran's nuclear deal.

Go deeperArrowNov 5, 2019

Expanding U.S. pressure campaign on Iran could reach a tipping point

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (C) on stage with Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Photo: Iranian Religious Leader Press Office/Handout/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Tuesday marks the first anniversary of the Trump administration's "maximum pressure" campaign against Iran, which escalated further last week with new State Department findings that link the country's construction sector to its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Why it matters: The maximum pressure policy has undoubtedly hurt Iran's economy, but it risks becoming a victim of its own success if dried-up revenues spark Iran to lash out further. While Washington has mostly avoided open conflict thus far, following that path may be harder as Iran grows more defiant.

Go deeperArrowNov 4, 2019

Pompeo warns of possible Iranian nuclear "breakout" as tensions escalate

Photo: Roy Rochlin/Getty Images

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo raised the possibility that Iran is preparing for "a rapid nuclear breakout" in a Thursday statement, highlighting the escalating crisis between Iran and the rest of the international community.

Why it matters: Since President Trump decided to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal last year and engage in a pressure campaign against the country, the Iranian government took steps to reduce their commitment to the 2015 deal.

Go deeperArrowNov 7, 2019