Iranian Banker’s Prosecutors Face Scrutiny Over Sanctions Case

A federal judge said she may hold a hearing to determine if prosecutors intentionally failed to disclose evidence that could have cleared an Iranian banker who was convicted earlier this year of violating U.S. sanctions against the Middle Eastern nation.

Ali Sadr Hashemi Nejad was found guilty in March of helping funnel $115 million through the U.S. financial system to Iranian entities from a construction project in Venezuela. But in a rare move, prosecutors in May asked U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan to dismiss the case, citing the likelihood of continued litigation over their failure to share with the defense evidence that might be considered exculpatory.

Nathan said on Wednesday she intends to dismiss the case but she wants some answers before doing so. She had said earlier that she has serious concerns about the government’s conduct. The judge asked for more documents from both sides outlining how the case should be resolved.

Prosecutors said they were acting in good faith and didn’t mean to withhold evidence. They asked the judge to just dismiss the indictment. But Sadr asked for a new trial and then to have the case thrown out, saying he was worried he’d be deported if that route wasn’t followed.

Sadr was accused of establishing a network of companies and bank accounts to mask the involvement of his father, the head of the Iranian industrial conglomerate Stratus Group and one of the country’s most successful businessmen.

He was convicted of five counts related to sanctions violations, including bank fraud and money laundering, and acquitted of one count of conspiracy. But information disclosed to the defense after the trial showed that the Office of Foreign Assets Control, which enforces sanctions regulations, knew of the payments and took no action.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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