Turkish gold trader Zarrab is denied bail in US sanctions case

Detained businessman Reza Zarrab (C) is surrounded by journalists as he arrives at a police center in Istanbul on December 17 ,2013. (File photo: AFP)

A US judge denied bail on Thursday to a wealthy Turkish gold trader on charges he conspired to violate US sanctions against Iran, rejecting the defendant's proposal that he hire his own guards to keep him in custody.

US District Judge Richard Berman in Manhattan said federal prosecutors showed it was more likely than not that the trader, Reza Zarrab, posed a flight risk if freed from federal custody and that no conditions would reasonably assure his appearance at trial. He has been in custody since March.

The judge said the Iranian-born Zarrab, a dual national of Iran and Turkey, had no ties to the United States, has significant financial resources, and has strong ties to other countries that would not extradite him if requested.

Those factors "provide Mr. Zarrab with the incentive and the wherewithal to flee and render him a flight risk," Berman said.

Benjamin Brafman, a lawyer for Zarrab, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Zarrab had sought to be released on $50 million bond, and held in a 15th-floor Manhattan apartment under 24-hour watch by armed guards at his own expense.

The case has attracted much attention in Turkey, where Zarrab was arrested in 2013 as part of a corruption probe into individuals with close ties to Tayyip Erdogan, then Turkey's prime minister and now its president.

It has also drawn scrutiny in the United States over whether the criminal justice system should tolerate different treatment for the wealthy and the poor, with the latter lacking the resources to self-finance their living conditions prior to trial.

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:48 - GMT 06:48