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Three Iranians Charged With Violating U.S. Sanctions On Iran

  • RFE/RL

Turkish singer Ebru Gundes is seen with her husband, businessman Reza Zarrab (R), in Istanbul.

Turkish singer Ebru Gundes is seen with her husband, businessman Reza Zarrab (R), in Istanbul.

Three Iranians have been charged with conspiring to evade U.S. sanctions against Iran, and one has been arrested, U.S. authorities announced on March 21.

Iranian-born businessman Reza Zarrab, 33, was arrested at a Miami airport on March 19 on the conspiracy charges.

Two other Iranian nationals, Zarrab's employee Kamelia Jamshidy, and Hossein Najafzadeh, a senior officer at a unit of Bank Mellat in Iran, were charged but remain fugitives.

According to the U.S. indictment, Zarrab, a dual citizen of Turkey and Iran, owned and operated a network of companies in Turkey and in the United Arab Emirates, including Royal Holding A.S., which employed Jamshidy.

Prosecutors said the suspects and unnamed co-conspirators conducted hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of transactions barred by U.S. and international economic sanctions on behalf of the Iranian government and Iranian businesses, including Bank Mellat, one of Iran's largest banks.

They said the suspects used an international network of companies in Iran, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and elsewhere to launder the proceeds of the illegal transactions and defraud several financial institutions, including U.S. banks, by concealing the true nature of the financial moves.

Diego Rodriguez, head of the FBI's New York office, said the crimes were carried out from 2010 to 2015. He said the charges should send a message to others who try to hide their true business partners.

A lawyer for Zarrab, who is married to Turkish pop star Ebru Gundes, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Zarrab previously attracted attention when he was detained without charges for two months in Turkey as part of a high-profile corruption probe in 2013.

With reporting by AP and Reuters
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