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U.S. Judge Rejects House Arrest For Wealthy Trader In Iran Sanctions Case

Turkish singer Ebru Gundes (left) stands with her husband, Reza Zarrab, who is in jail awaiting trial on charges of helping Iran evade U.S. sanctions.

A U.S. judge has rejected a wealthy gold trader's request to pay for his own house arrest in Manhattan as he awaits trial on charges of helping Iran evade U.S. sanctions.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge Richard Berman on June 16 said Reza Zarrab, a dual citizen of Iran and Turkey, must remain in jail because his wealth and overseas connections make him a flight risk.

Zarrab, who was detained in Miami in March, faces "a substantial term of imprisonment" of up to 30 years if he is found guilty of "undermining U.S. sanctions against Iran," and the government's case "appears strong," Berman said.

Zarrab had proposed a $50 million bail package that would have made him a prisoner in his own home, a plan the judge rejected as favorable treatment for the wealthy.

Zarrab, whose lawyers called the judge's decision "deeply disappointing," has pleaded not guilty to charges that he helped Iran evade U.S. sanctions by conducting financial transactions through his companies in Turkey and the United Arab Emirates.

Zarrab is married to Turkish pop star Ebru Gundes and was a central figure in a Turkish corruption scandal in 2013.

Based on reporting by AP and AFP