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