Preet Bharara under investigation by Turkish prosecutors

Former U.S. attorney Preet Bharara is under investigation — by Turkish prosecutors.

Officials have launched an investigation into Bharara and his successor, acting U.S. attorney Joon Kim, for putting a Turkish-Iranian gold trader on trial for allegedly skirting U.S. sanctions against Iran, Turkey’s official news agency said Saturday.

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FILE PHOTO: U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara speaks during a Reuters Newsmaker event in New York City, U.S., July 13, 2016. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File photo
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 20: Preet Bharara, United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, speaks during a press conference announcing corruption charges against members the New York City Police Department, at the U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of New York, June 20, 2016 in New York City. Early Monday morning, three members of the New York City Police Department and a businessman, who is a top fundraiser for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, were arrested on federal corruption charges including the exchange of lavish gifts for favors. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 20: Preet Bharara, United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, gestures at a chart during a press conference announcing corruption charges against members the New York City Police Department, at the U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of New York, June 20, 2016 in New York City. Early Monday morning, three members of the New York City Police Department and a businessman, who is a top fundraiser for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, were arrested on federal corruption charges including the exchange of lavish gifts for favors. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
US Attorney Southern District of New York Preet Bharara speaks at the Wall Street Journal CEO council annual meeting in Washington on November 15, 2016. / AFP / YURI GRIPAS (Photo credit should read YURI GRIPAS/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 30: Preet Bharara, the top federal prosecutor in Manhattan, arrives at Trump Tower on November 30, 2016 in New York City. President-elect Donald Trump and his transition team are in the process of filling cabinet and other high level positions for the new administration. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 17: Preet Bharara, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, speaks at a news conference where it was announced that two former pharmaceutical executives are facing federal criminal charges over a fraud and kickback scheme on November 17, 2016 in New York City. Former Philidor Rx Services CEO Andrew Davenport and former Valeant executive Gary Tanner were charged Thursday with wire fraud, money laundering and other charges in which prosecutors say they made millions of dollars illegally. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Preet Bharara, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, speaks during a press conference in New York, U.S., on Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2016. A former portfolio manager who was responsible for investing more than $53 billion in New York State employee retirement funds took more than $100,000 in bribes in exchange for steering more than $2 billion in pension business to two brokers, earning them and their firms millions of dollars in commissions, authorities said on Wednesday. Photographer: Peter Foley/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Preet Bharara, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, speaks during a press conference in New York, U.S., on Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2016. A former portfolio manager who was responsible for investing more than $53 billion in New York State employee retirement funds took more than $100,000 in bribes in exchange for steering more than $2 billion in pension business to two brokers, earning them and their firms millions of dollars in commissions, authorities said on Wednesday. Photographer: Peter Foley/Bloomberg via Getty Images
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The Istanbul prosecutor’s office is calling into question the source of documents and wiretaps being used as evidence in the U.S. case against gold trader Reza Zarrab.

Turkish officials allege the case is politically motivated and have accused Bharara, who was fired by President Trump, of having ties to a controversial Pennsylvania-based Muslim cleric.

Turkey blames the cleric, Fethullah Gulen, for a failed 2016 coup.

NBC reported earlier this week that special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating whether Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan offered Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn $15 million to kidnap Gulen and return him to Turkey, according to NBC News.

Turkish officials also pressured Flynn to help get the case against Zarrab dropped.

The 33-year-old businessman did not appear at a scheduled court hearing last week even though his trial is set to start on Monday.

His absence coincided with reports that he is working with Mueller and other investigators probing Flynn’s ties to the Turkish government.

Zarrab allegedly moved hundreds of millions of dollars for the Iranian government and Iranian firms via offshore companies and bank accounts.

The U.S. case was built on work initially performed by Turkish investigators who targeted Zarrab in 2013 in a sweeping corruption scandal that allegedly led to several top Turkish officials.

Erdogan, who defended Zarrab at the time as a philanthropist, asked former Vice President Joe Biden in 2016 to drop the case and fire Bharara, according to reports, but Biden shot down the overtures.

Bharara has vehemently rejected the allegation. Gulen denies involvement in the coup attempt.

 

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