U.S. Attorney's Office Southern District of New York has announced today (September 7) the filing of a superseding indictment against the former Minister of Economy Mehmet Zafer Çağlayan, General Manager of the government-owned bank Halk Bank Süleyman Aslan, as well as two other individuals Levent Balkan and Abdullah Happani.
The suspects are being charged with "conspiring to use the U.S. financial system to conduct hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of transactions on behalf of the Government of Iran and other Iranian entities, which were barred by United States sanctions"; "lying to U.S. Government officials about those transactions"; "laundering funds in connection with those illegal transactions, including millions of dollars in bribe payments to Çağlayan, Aslan and others used to facilitate the scheme", and "defrauding several financial institutions by concealing the true nature of these transactions".
According to the official written statement issued on the website of the Attorney's Office, "the superseding Indictment further alleges that Çağlayan's co-defendants Reza Zarrab, Mehmet Hakan Atilla, Mohammad Zarrab, Camelia Jamshidy and Hossein Najafzadeh who previously were charged in this case with the same offenses – participated in the same overarching scheme to violate and evade prohibitions against Iran's access to the U.S. financial system".
The vice manager of the government-owned bank Halk Bank, Mehmet Hakan Atilla, was arrested earlier in March 2017 in New York as a part of the investigation of Reza Zarrab.
About Mehmet Zafer Çağlayan
Mehmet Zafer Çağlayan is a member of parliament from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the former Minister of Economic Affairs under then Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
As a part of the December 17-25 Corruption-Bribe Probe, his son Salih Kaan Çağlayan was arrested on 17 December 2013 for involvement in corruption.
Due to the investigation, Zafer Çağlayan and two other ministers, namely Minister of the Interior Muammer Güler and Minister of Environment and Urban Planning Erdoğan Bayraktar, resigned on 25 December 2013, although Çağlayan and Güler remained as MPs.
On 28 February 2014, Salih Kaan Caglayan was released with two other people.
In May 5, 2014 a special parliamentary committee was set up to investigate the corruption and to bring Çağlayan and other MPs subjected to the same corruption probe before the Supreme Court.
On January 5, 2015, the commission decided not to refer Çağlayan and the other MPs to the Supreme Court. The Parliament, voting on the matter, also decided with 242 approving and 264 rejecting votes that the MPs not be referred to the Supreme Court and that they not be prosecuted.
Reza Zarrab was arrested on December 21 as a part of the corruption and bribery investigation that took place between December 17-25, 2013. He was released after 70 days of imprisonment.
Iranian businessperson Babek Zencani, thought to be Zarrab's partner in Iran, was sentenced to capital punishment on the charge of corruption on March 6, 2016.
Zencani has companies in Turkey too. Kont Group Cosmetics in Beşiktaş district of İstanbul is one of them. Zencani is also allegedly linked with Onur Air. Zencani's attorneys have stated in the past that Onur Air belongs to their client.
Zencani was associated with Zarrab frequently during this period. In the report prepared by inspectors from the Ministry of Customs and Trade, a relation between the two was mentioned.
Zarrab had been taken into custody in Miami city airport while trying to enter the United States and was arrested on March 22, 2016.
In his first hearing on April 27, Zarrab, standing trial and facing 75 years in prison, denied the accusations of conspiring to evade US sanctions against Iran, money laundering, and bank fraud. (AS/DG)
Click to read the press release by the U.S. Attorney's Office
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