NEW YORK (AP) — A judge said Wednesday he wants to know who is paying former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and a former U.S. attorney general to represent a Turkish businessman charged with helping Iran evade U.S. sanctions.
U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman asked Reza Zarrab’s lawyers to tell him the nature of the work and the roles Giuliani and ex-U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey have been hired to perform in the case. The judge also asked to view contracts the men signed with the defense team.
In a written order, Berman said he wants answers before he questions Zarrab later this month about potential conflicts of interest Giuliani and Mukasey could face by representing him and whether he’s willing to accept them.
Berman has noted that Giuliani’s law firm is a registered agent of Turkey, and both men work for firms that have represented banks in the case.
The judge also asked the lawyers to reveal the identity of any people or parties paying Zarrab’s legal fees and expenses, unless he’s paying for everything himself.
The information, Berman said, can be submitted under seal, particularly if the submissions contain privileged information.
The judge’s order came a day after Zarrab attorney Ben Brafman told Berman that Giuliani and Mukasey are seeking a “diplomatic solution” to the case.
Brafman said neither lawyer will appear in court. Recently, they went to Turkey to meet Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Giuliani accompanied President Donald Trump on the campaign trail last year and was one of his earliest and most enthusiastic supporters. Mukasey, an attorney general under former President George W. Bush, is a former chief judge in Manhattan federal court.
Zarrab, 33, of Istanbul, has pleaded not guilty to charges he conspired to process hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of financial transactions for Iranian businesses or Iran’s government from 2010 to 2015. Authorities say those transactions are banned by U.S. and international sanctions. Trial is scheduled to start Aug. 21.
Zarrab, a well-known personality in Turkey partly because he’s married to Turkish pop star and TV personality Ebru Gundes, has been held without bail since his March 2016 arrest in Miami after he arrived in the U.S. to take his wife and 5-year-old daughter to Disney World.
Prosecutors say he has considerable wealth. They estimate his commercial ventures generate over $11 billion annually, though Zarrab reports his yearly income at less than $1 million.
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