Winning Horse Appears to Blow Cover of Trader Hiding in Florida
(Bloomberg) -- A gold trader who disappeared after testifying about a U.S. sanctions-evasion scheme he masterminded has apparently had his assumed identity blown by a horse.
In late August, a photo appeared in PS Dressage magazine as part of an article about Sonata MF, a horse who had just become a national champion in the equestrian sport. The since-removed picture showed “Aaron Goldsmith,” the smiling owner of the facility near Palm Beach, Florida, where the horse trained.
Turkish journalists soon identified Goldsmith as Reza Zarrab, who in 2017 was the U.S. government’s star witness in a case alleging that he conspired with an executive at state-run Turkiye Halk Bankasi AS to launder money and funnel Iranian funds through the U.S. financial system. Zarrab pleaded guilty and cooperated against his co-defendant, who was convicted. He may testify again in the U.S. government’s case against the bank.
Zarrab’s apparent reappearance has caused a media sensation in Turkey, with some outlets including including TR724 and TurkishMinute publishing identifying details about his new life. Citing “current circumstances,” a federal judge in New York on Monday unsealed previously-secret conditions of Zarrab’s release that showed that he was permitted to live in Florida.
Robert Anello, Zarrab’s lawyer, responding to questions about whether his client was violating terms of his bail, said: “Mr. Zarrab has abided by the court’s requirements and the terms of his release.” Anello said he would not confirm any details of his client’s current life and said “any attempt by media to disclose his whereabouts would be irresponsible.”
The Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s Office, which prosecuted the 2017 trial, declined to comment. Zarrab has yet to be sentenced based on his guilty plea.
Before Zarrab began cooperating with U.S. prosecutors, Turkey lobbied to have him released. After he became a witness, the Turkish government pushed the Trump Administration to drop the Halkbank case. Zarrab’s assets in Turkey were seized after his trial testimony.
According to the terms of his bail, Zarrab was initially required to stay in New York and hire a security team at his own expense due to “the serious risk to his personal safety.” Over time, Zarrab’s conditions were eased. He was no longer required to be under house arrest, nor required to employ a security firm – though allowed to keep one if he wished. His permitted travel was expanded to New Jersey, Connecticut and ultimately, Florida, where Aaron Goldsmith opened an equestrian facility called the Next Level Performance Center.
Goldsmith told the dressage magazine that he had been in the horse-training industry for nearly 20 years. According to Turkey’s Hurriyet Daily News, Zarrab previously owned a championship racehorse in Istanbul, but his ownership certificate was revoked by the Jockey Club of Turkey.
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