Former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and a former U.S. attorney general can work as lawyers for a Turkish businessman facing criminal charges, a federal judge said Thursday.
Southern District Judge Richard Berman said Reza Zarrab had satisfied him that he understands potential conflicts of interest that arise by being represented by Giuliani and former Attorney General Michael Mukasey and was willing to hire the men despite them.
Zarrab, 33, a well-known personality in Turkey, is charged with violating U.S. sanctions against Iran by processing hundreds of millions of dollars illegally for Iranian businesses or Iran’s government. He has pleaded not guilty. His trial is scheduled to start in October, over two years after his arrest.
Giuliani and Mukasey are not representing Zarrab in court. Rather, Zarrab’s criminal lawyers say the men are trying to negotiate a diplomatic solution to the case. Giuliani and Mukasey have met with Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and have said they planned to speak with U.S. officials as well.
Zarrab recently answered a series of questions posed by Berman to make sure he understood potential conflicts arising because law firms employing Giuliani and Mukasey have represented banks allegedly harmed in the case. Giuliani’s firm also is registered as a foreign agent for Turkey.
In a written order, Berman noted that Giuliani said that neither he nor his firm has represented the administration of President Donald Trump.
And Giuliani also had answered a query from Berman by saying that he had not served on any Trump administration commission related to executive orders banning travel from several predominantly Muslim countries and had not participated in writing any of the executive orders on that subject, the judge said.
The judge directed defense lawyers to apprise him of any new potential conflicts that arise.