MANHATTAN (CN) — An indictment federal prosecutors unveiled Monday night takes aim at the brother of a Turkish gold trader who faces trial in 2017 on charges of violating sanctions against Iran.
The government says Mohammad Zarrab, 38, remains at large.
A dual-national of Iran and Turkey, Zarrab is the older brother of his accused co-conspirator.
Reza Zarrab, 33, will go before a jury on Jan. 23, 2017, to face charges that he violated the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and conspired to commit bank fraud.
Before his March arrest, Reza Zarrab had declared $100,000 in cash at customs while entering the United States to take his child to a Walt Disney theme park.
The government says Reza Zarrab's various businesses pull in more than $11 billion a year in foreign countries.
Charges against Mohammad Zarrab appeared for the first time Monday night in a superseding indictment against his brother. Prosecutors say the pair conspired with Camelia Jamshidy, 29, and Hossein Najafzadeh, 65, to do business with Iran's Mahan Air, a company allegedly linked to the Qods Force and Hezbollah.
The 28-page indictment also describes transactions involving Iranian government-owned Bank Mellat; the National Iranian Oil Co.; an Iranian power-plant company known as the MAPNA Group; and various subsidiarys of the Naftiran Intertrade Company.
Prosecutors quote the general manager of the Central Bank of Iran as boasting of the Zarrab family's helpfulness toward "economic jihad."
"It is no secret that the trend is moving toward intensifying and increasing the sanctions, and since the wise leader of the Islamic Revolution of Iran has announced this to be the year of economic jihad, the Zarrab family, which has had half a century of experience in foreign exchange, while establishing branches in Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Russia, and Azerbaijan, considers it to be our national and moral duty to declare our willingness to participate in any kind of cooperation in order to implement monetary and foreign exchange anti-sanction policies," the letter states, according to the indictment.
An international network of companies in Iran, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates allegedly facilitated the transactions.
Monday's development expands the docket of a case that caused stocks in Turkey to plummet when it began earlier this year.
Opponents of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan praised Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara on Twitter for taking down the younger Zarrab, a business ally of the leader whose arrest fell at a time of unrest in the Erdogan's administration.
In June, Zarrab's attorneys failed to convince U.S. District Judge Richard Berman to let their client post a bail package keeping him in a cushy Manhattan apartment before trial, an arrangement that sparked controversy about a two-tier system of justice.
The case also sparked controversy about the reach of U.S. sanctions against Iran, which here target two brothers who are Turkish residents.
Reza Zarrab's lawyer Paul Clement, a partner at Bancroft PLLC, spent three years as the Department of Justice's voice at the U.S. Supreme Court as a former solicitor general.
He recently argued that the Justice Department went too far in its Iran sanctions enforcement, blasting the prosecution's interpretation of the law.
"It would be radical, in the sense that it would expand the whole nature of the sanctions regime," he said on Oct. 5.
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