A Turkish-Iranian gold trader arrested on charges he helped Iran evade sanctions has charged that the U.S. government is using "an unprecedented reach" of law to prosecute him.
Benjamin Brafman, attorney for Reza Zarrab, 32, on May 31 presented a federal court in New York with papers in advance of a June 2 bail hearing. The government wants Zarrab held without bail, arguing he can flee using his worldwide contacts and considerable wealth.
"Zarrab is not a terrorist," Brafman wrote. "This case is very defensible and even now, hanging by a jurisdictional thread. There is no incentive to flee a case that is defensible."
The case is "an outlier," he said. "The government has never charged anything like it."
The indictment alleges that Zarrab -- a non-U.S. citizen living in another country -- violated U.S. sanctions by using non-U.S. companies to instruct non-U.S. banks to send U.S. dollars to other non-U.S. banks for the benefit of other foreigners.
He said the United States would only have jurisdiction if U.S. banks were used.
"This is an extraordinary assertion of jurisdiction over a non-U.S. businessperson," he said.