The Reza Zarrab Chronology

Reza Zarrab is one of the biggest Iranian sanction evaders of all time. His case in the US has been ruining Turkish-American relations and I have been following it inside the federal courthouse for months. The jury trial continues today.

I wrote this wrap-up and chronology for T24:,499258

2011-12-03 16:19:04

Reza Zarrab's Letter to the Central Bank of Iran

A draft letter is prepared for Reza Zarrab’s signature. It is addressed to the general manager of the Central Bank of Iran: “...the Zarrab family... 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.”

2013-02-06 10:59:52

US ban on gold exports to Iran implemented

2013-06-15 10:59:52

Hassan Rouhani elected Iran’s president

Rouhani succeeds Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

2013-12-17 10:59:52

Zarrab arrested in Turkey

He is arrested along with three ministers’ sons and the head of Turkish state-owned Halk Bank. Turkish prosecutors accuse Zarrab of bribing public officials and establishing an illegal organization.

2013-12-25 10:59:52

Three Turkish cabinet ministers resign

Enter story info here

2014-02-28 10:59:52

Zarrab released in Turkey

In about three years he would accept having “partially” bribed officials in order to secure his release.

2014-09-23 10:59:52

Search warrant for Zarrab’s Hotmail

According to Hurriyet, a United States judge approves a search warrant for Zarrab’s Hotmail account.

2014-10-17 10:59:52

Investigation dismissed in Turkey

2015-06-21 10:59:52

Zarrab becomes “Champion of Exports”

Zarrab given a “Champion of Exports” award by Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus and Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci.

2015-07-01 10:59:52

Nuclear Deal signed

The Iranian government signs the nuclear deal with six world powers – including the United States – in exchange for the gradual lifting of the economic sanctions.

2015-12-15 10:59:52

Sealed indictment presented

A sealed indictment regarding Zarrab is presented to a US court.

2016-03-06 10:59:52

Zanjani sentenced to death

Babak Zanjani, Zarrab’s counterpart, sentenced to death in Iran for withholding billions in Iranian oil revenues that were being transferred to Iran via his companies.

2016-03-19 10:59:52

Zarrab leaves for US

Zarrab boards a Turkish Airlines plane in Istanbul with his family. According to Zarrab’s WhatsApp messages, the Zarrab family seems to have been on their way to Disney World in Orlando, Florida.

2016-03-21 10:59:52

Zarrab detained in Miami

2016-03-21 10:59:52

Indictment unsealed

Reza Zarrab accused of sanctions evasion, money laundering, bank fraud and defrauding the United States. Zarrab’s initial maximum potential sentence adds up to 75 years.

2016-03-29 10:59:52

President Erdogan comments on arrest

President Erdogan comments on Zarrab’s arrest: “This is not a matter that has to do with our country. Mr. Zarrab’s lawyers will give the necessary answer.”

2016-04-14 10:59:52

Zarrab starts road trip from Miami

2016-04-27 10:59:52

Zarrab pleads not guilty

Zarrab arraigned in New York City.

2016-06-16 10:59:52

Bail application denied

Judge cites flight risk, national security and lack of trust for private guards.

2016-07-15 10:59:52

Failed coup in Turkey

President Erdogan blames Fethullah Gulen.

2016-07-18 10:59:52

Zarrab's "Dream Team"

A total of 15 defense lawyers undersign a memorandum of law submitted to the court. Paul D. Clement, former solicitor general of the United States, Viet D. Dinh, a former assistant attorney general, and William A. Burck, a former White House deputy counsel, all become part of Zarrab’s “dream team.”

2016-07-22 10:59:52

Yuksel Karkin Kucuk raided

The Turkish police raids a law firm whose owners were charged with being members of a terrorist organization led by Fethullah Gulen. The law firm was formerly called Yuksel Karkin Kucuk.

2016-08-09 10:59:52

Flynn signs pro-Turkey lobbying contract

According to the New York Times, Trump campaign aid and later national security advisor Michael Flynn signs a pro-Turkey lobbying contract with Inovo, a firm with links to President Erdogan.

2016-08-30 10:59:52

Motion to recuse the court

Defense makes a motion to recuse the court due to Judge Richard Berman’s alleged Gulen connection. In 2014, Berman was hosted in Turkey by Yuksel Karkin Kucuk.

2016-09-15 00:00:00

"To make it out of prison you need to admit to something you haven’t committed”

During a phone call he makes from jail, “In America, in order to make it out of prison you need to admit to something you haven’t committed,” Zarrab says according to a transcript summary.

2016-09-21 10:59:52

Erdogan demands Zarrab's release

During his meeting with Vice President Joe Biden, Erdogan demands the release of Zarrab and the firing of Preet Bharara, according to unnamed US officials cited in David Ignatius’s opinion piece.

2016-09-24 10:59:52

Erdogan: "We have to seek justice for he is our citizen.”

“The US Department of Justice handed Zarrab over to names which FETO (pro-Fethullah Terrorist Organization) had wined and dined,” says President Erdogan. “After all, we have to seek justice for he (Zarrab) is our citizen.” The President acknowledges that he mentioned the case to Vice President Joe Biden. He comments that “malicious intentions” were involved in the case, as his name had been entered into the court record.

2016-09-29 10:59:52

Motion to recuse denied

Judge Berman decides not to recuse himself saying it has been four months since Zarrab’s arraignment.

2016-10-17 10:59:52

Motion to dismiss denied

Defense argued that this case lies outside the United States’ jurisdiction.

2016-11-09 10:59:52

Donald Trump elected President

2016-11-20 15:57:48

The Prisoner Exchange

Zarrab speaks with his parents. They talk about a prisoner exchange deal. The parents mention six people being exchanged for four, according to a transcript summary.

2016-11-21 15:57:48

“I came here to take him"

During a phone conversation from jail, Zarrab wants “the Ambassador” to say, “I came here to take him (Zarrab) with me.”

2017-02-13 10:59:52

Flynn resigns

National Security Advisor Michael Flynn resigns.

2017-02-24 10:59:52

Erdogan meets Giuliani

President Erdogan meets Rudolph Giuliani, former New York mayor and Trump confidant, in Turkey.

2017-03-11 10:59:52

Trump fires Bharara

Donald Trump fires US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara.

2017-03-27 10:59:52

Mehmet Hakan Atilla arrested

Mehmet Hakan Atilla, Halk Bank deputy CEO responsible for international banking, arrested in New York. Zarrab adds Rudolph Giuliani to his defense team.

2017-03-29 10:59:52

Halk Bank stocks plunge

After Atilla’s arrest, Halk Bank stocks suffer their biggest one-day fall, according to Reuters.

2017-05-16 10:59:52

Erdogan meets Trump

Erdogan mentions the case to President Trump in their first meeting.

2017-09-06 10:59:52

Former Economy Minister charged

Superseding Indictment filed. Former Economy Minister Zafer Caglayan and former Halk Bank CEO Suleyman Aslan added as co-defendants.

2017-10-26 10:59:52

Zarrab pleads guilty

Zarrab secretly signs the paperwork and pleads guilty. He accepts an additional charge: bribing correction officers.

2017-10-30 10:59:52

Zarrab released (!)

The US Federal Bureau of Prisons website shows that Zarrab has been released on this day.

2017-10-30 10:59:52

"The only defendant who appears at trial"

Zarrab’s lawyer misses a filing deadline for documents that would allow him to challenge certain pieces of evidence. Atilla’s lawyer states that his client may be the only defendant who appears at trial.

2017-11-16 10:59:52

New banking regulation

BDDK, the Turkish banking watchdog, introduces new regulation allowing banks to transfer their assets to another entity without dissolving. The President of BDDK, later says that the law has nothing to do with Halk Bank.

2017-11-18 10:59:52

Turkey investigates Bharara

Turkey starts to investigate former US attorney Preet Bharara and acting US attorney Joon H. Kim who are responsible for Reza Zarrab’s prosecution.

2017-11-27 10:59:52

US v. Atilla

Jury selection begins. According to Reuters, Judge Berman tells potential jurors that Mehmet Hakan Atilla will be the only person on trial. The case’s name becomes “US v. Mehmet Hakan Atilla.” The fate of the seven additional victims is unclear.

2017-11-28 10:59:52

Zarrab becomes star witness

Opening statements. Atilla accuses his former boss and former Halk Bank CEO Suleyman Aslan of accepting bribes from Zarrab without remorse. Prosecutors reveal that Zarrab is their most important witness.

2017-11-29 10:59:52

Zarrab admits bribing Former Economy Minister

Zarrab’s testimony begins. He tells the jury that he paid over $50 million to Zafer Caglayan, the Turkish economy minister at the time, so that Caglayan would force Halk Bank to take part in Zarrab’s scheme. Zarrab also says that he was hoping that his lawyers, such as Rudy Giuliani, would broker a prisoner exchange deal with Turkey.

2017-11-30 10:59:52

Zarrab: Erdogan approved the use of banks

Zarrab’s testimony continues. He tells the jury that he had been told that Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Prime Minister at the time, had approved the use of two Turkish-state-owned banks in the scheme. Surprisingly, he adds that Atilla, the most knowledgeable Halk Bank official with regards to sanction regulations, was forced to take part in the plot by his boss and that the defendant never asked for a bribe.

2017-12-01 10:59:52

Flynn pleads guilty

According to the New York Times: "...prosecutors laid out their case that Mr. Flynn had repeatedly lied to investigators about his dealings with Russia and his lobbying on behalf of the Turkish government."

2017-12-01 10:59:52

Zarrab's assets seized

Prime Minister Binali Yildirim questions Zarrab’s credibility as a witness and adds: “I hope that he turns back from making this mistake.” The Prime Minister emphasizes that the goal of this trial is to “pressurize the Turkish economy.” Turkish authorities seize Zarrab’s as well as his close circle’s assets in Turkey. The list includes 21 people including Zarrab’s five-year-old daughter.

The Reza Zarrab Chronology

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