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Judge Rules that Giuliani Can Represent Turkish-Iranian Gold Trader in Fraud Case

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On Thursday, Judge Richard M. Berman ruled that Rudolph W. Giuliani and another prominent lawyer, can continue to represent Reza Zarrab, who is facing federal charges in Manhattan, despite conflicts of interest in the case, reports The Wall Street Journal.

Reza Zarrab, 33, is a Turkish-Iranian gold trader, has pleaded guilty to the charges of conspiring to commit money laundering, bank fraud and violating the United States sanctions on Iran, and faces trial on October 30, says The New York Times. 

According to the Times, Mr. Giuliani, the former New York City mayor, and Michael B. Mukasey, a former attorney general in President George W. Bush’s administration, were brought in by Mr. Zarrab, whom prosecutors have portrayed as a man of considerable wealth and power in Turkey.

Mr. Zarrab sought these two attorneys in order to explore a possible diplomatic resolution to his case, outside of a normal place bargain; in April Mr. Mukasey described the effort as seeking “a state-to-state resolution of this case”, reports the Times.

Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Mukasey have gone to the extent of meeting and negotiating with the president of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and Trump administration officials, in order to find a diplomatic resolution to the case, says The Wall Street Journal.

“Senior officials in both the U.S. government and the Turkish government remain receptive to pursuing the possibility of an agreement,” said Mr. Mukasey in the court filing.

Benjamin Brafman, Mr. Zarrab’s lead criminal defense lawyer told the court, “I’m not involved in these negotiations and prefer not to be. It’s way above my pay grade, to be perfectly candid”, reports The Wall Street Journal.

Mr. Brafman said that Giuliani and Mukasey are acting as representatives for Mr. Zarrab with the goal of persuading the Turkish and U.S governments to agree to a mutually favorable outcome; the talks come as Turkish officials hope to build a closer relationship with the Trump administration, reports The Wall Street Journal.

According to the Times, the office of Joon H. Kim, the acting U.S attorney for the Southern District of New York, had asked the Judge to conduct an investigation into the potential conflict issue that the two lawyers raise.

For example, both Mr. Giuliani’s law firm, Greenberg Traurig, and Mr. Mukasey’s firm, Debevoise & Plimpton, represented banks which prosecutors claim were the victims of Mr. Zarrab’s scheme, says the Times.

Judge Berman had asked Mr. Zarrab whether he understood the potential conflicts, including the fact that Mr. Giuliani and his firm, which is a registered agent for Turkey, could be barred from negotiating a resolution to the case “that would be contrary to Turkey’s interests”, reports The Wall Street Journal.

“I understand that the Greenberg firm represents the government of the Turkish Republic,” said Mr. Zarrab to the judge. “In theory, the interests of the government of the Turkish Republic and my interests could be different in connection with this case.”

“I do waive all my rights according to this subject,” added Mr. Zarrab.

The United States attorney’s office, Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Mukasey and their law firms all had no comment and Mr. Brafman’s office said he was unavailable for comment.

By: Gene Wilkenson

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