EghtesadOnline: Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani tried to meet with U.S. government officials and went to Turkey in an attempt to end the prosecution of a Turkish-Iranian businessman accused of helping Iran evade financial sanctions, according to prosecutors in Manhattan.
The disclosures were the latest developments in a brewing controversy over the hiring of Giuliani and former U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey by Reza Zarrab, who has been charged with using his network of companies to process hundreds of millions of dollars in payments through the U.S. financial system on behalf of Iran and related companies, according to Bloomberg.
In a letter to U.S. District Judge Richard Berman Friday, the prosecutors said Giuliani and Mukasey met with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan sometime after Feb. 24 to discuss ways to resolve the case. The two lawyers notified the office of U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions of their plans beforehand, according to the letter. The prosecutors didn’t say which U.S. government officials they tried to meet with on behalf of Zarrab.
Giuliani and Mukasey have both been advisers to President Donald Trump. Their hiring raised concerns whether they were retained to use their connections and influence with the Trump administration to resolve the case in a way that was favorable to Zarrab and the Turkish government -- going over the heads of prosecutors in Manhattan who filed the charges in 2015.
It seems Giuliani and Mukasey are trying “to negotiate a disposition of the criminal charges in this case without directly engaging the office prosecuting the case,” prosecutors said.
Defense lawyer Benjamin Brafman said in a letter to the judge on Thursday that the hiring of Giuliani and Mukasey "may impact the prosecution," but that they wouldn’t be taking part in the trial or appear in court.
Greenberg Traurig LLP, Giuliani’s law firm, also appears to be a registered agent of the Republic of Turkey, according to the prosecutors. An Oct. 31 filing with the Registration unit of the Foreign Agents Registration Act lists Greenberg Traurig as a registered agent for Turkey and says people from the law firm met with then-Senator Sessions on Sept. 7 and Sept. 8 to discuss U.S.-Turkish relations.
A spokeswoman for Greenberg Traurig said neither Giuliani or any Greenberg lawyer handling Zarrab’s were involved in the firm’s representation of the Turkish government. She declined to specify which government officials Giuliani sought meetings with on behalf of Zarrab, saying those details were protected by attorney-client privilege.
Giuliani hasn’t responded to messages left at his office. A spokesman for Sessions didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. Peter Carr, a Justice Department spokesman, declined to comment.
Sensitivity around Zarrab’s prosecution has been heightened following the firing of Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara earlier this month. Federal prosecutors have asked Berman to hold a hearing on whether Giuliani’s and Mukasey’s law firms’ involvement poses a conflict of interest since both represented financial institutions that were alleged to be victims of Zarrab’s conduct.
The case is U.S. v. Zarrab, 15-cr-867, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).