The Biggest Sanctions-Evasion Scheme in Recent History.By Jonathan Schanzer
Excerpt: Yesterday, Turkish banker Mehmet Hakan Atilla was found guilty in a Manhattan courtroom for a range of financial crimes. His dramatic trial revealed that tens of billions in dollars and gold moved from Turkey to Iran through a complex network of businesses, ba nks, and front companies. The trial was a long time coming. In late October of 2016, Justice Department officials paid a visit to the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, the Washington-based think tank where I serve as senior vice president. They wanted to talk about Reza Zarrab. A dual Iranian-Turkish national, Zarrab was the swashbuckling gold trader who had helped Iran evade sanctions with the help of Turkish banks in 2013 and 2014, yielding Iran an estimated $13 billion at the height of the efforts to thwart Tehran’s nuclear ambitions. A leaked report by prosecutors in Istanbul in March 2014 suggested that Zarrab spearheaded a second sanctions-busting scheme involving fake invoices for billions more in fictitious humanitarian shipments to Iran that were processed through Turkish banks.