Turkish Foreign Ministry sent a diplomatic note to the U.S. over Turkish-Iranian gold trader Reza Zarrab, also known as Rıza Sarraf, late Wednesday.
In the note, the ministry asked the whereabouts of the pro-Turkish government tycoon, who was arrested in Miami last year over accusations of engaging in hundreds of millions of dollars-worth of transactions on behalf of Iran, which were barred by U.S. sanctions, laundering the proceeds of those illegal transactions and defrauding several financial institutions by concealing the true nature of these transactions.
His lawyer said that he cannot communicate with Zarrab, who is standing trial in New York, and the Attorney General's Office does not provide his specific whereabouts.
The mystery surrounding Zarrab only grew late last week when the Federal Bureau of Prisons website began listing him as having been released from a New York City federal lockup on Wednesday. Federal officials insist he's still in custody, but it is unclear in what form.
The signs make it likely his case will be resolved as part of a deal with prosecutors. His lawyers filed no challenges to evidence the government will use at trial and did not contribute to other typical late pre-trial activities, like recommending questions that should be asked of prospective jurors.
It is also unclear if whatever resolution appears imminent has resulted from attempts at a diplomatic solution by former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and ex-Attorney General Michael Mukasey.
Zarrab, an Iranian-Turkish tycoon, was arrested by U.S. authorities in Miami in March 2016 on charges of helping Iran process millions of dollars of transactions when it was under U.S. sanctions for its nuclear program.
The case threatens to reopen a case that reached right into Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s inner circle. It will also deepen existing tensions between Turkey and the United States. Zarrab was detained and charged in İstanbul in 2013 in a huge corruption case. All charges against Zarrab and those linked to Erdoğan's government were dropped.