UPDATE THURS. 11/16 6:12 PM --
Two sources close to the investigation told NBC News Thursday Reza Zarrab is cooperating with federal prosecutors in a money laundering case. As NBC News reports, Zarrab is out of jail and cooperating with investigators.
Attorney Danny Cevallos, a legal analyst for NBC News, called the move "a significant development."
"You can fill in the gaps that federal investigators are looking for any relation between Erdogan and Flynn," Cevallos said. "So, to the extent that Zarrab has any connection or knowledge of that, it is very important that they're flipping him."
Original article below...
A Turkish-Iranian gold trader scheduled to go to trial in New York on Monday is no longer in the U.S. prison system, but remains in federal custody, prompting speculation he may be cooperating with investigators as part of a plea deal—and helping to build special counsel Robert Mueller’s case against Donald Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
Reza Zarrab was arrested in Disney World in March of 2016 on charges including money laundering and conspiring to evade U.S. sanctions against Iran. Prosecutors allege Zarrab facilitated “millions of dollars in illicit transactions” and “tricked numerous U.S. financial institutions into processing barred transactions.”
Charges against Zarrab were originally filed by former United States attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara, whom Trump abruptly fired in March. According to the New York Times, the former gold trader has hired a “dream team” of lawyers, and retained former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani to try and persuade Trump and Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan to reach a “diplomatic resolution” in Zarrab’s case.
In recent weeks Zarrab’s lawyers signaled their client’s intention to plead guilty, forgoing court filings—a move former federal prosecutor Daniel Richman told the Times he “would not expect” if the case is going to a jury. And at a pretrial hearing last week, the U.S. Bureau of Prisons said Zarrab had been released, but remains in federal custody, Bloomberg reports.
“All I can tell you is that he is in federal custody,” spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York Nick Biase told the Daily Beast.
Last week, the Wall Street Journal reported special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating allegations that just before Trump’s inauguration, Flynn met with senior Turkish officials at the 21 Club restaurant in New York to discuss a possible quid pro quo while in office. Investigators are reportedly looking into whether Flynn and Turkish officials discussed releasing Zarrab, as well as allegations Flynn was offered $15 million to return and Erdogan rival to Turkey. Flynn’s son, Michael Flynn Jr., is also reportedly being investigated. Flynn’s lawyer dismissed the report as “outrageous” and “false.”
Flynn did not disclose that he was operating as a paid agent of the Turkish government until after he was forced to step down as Trump’s national security adviser. In June, former FBI director James Comey testified that Trump asked him to “let Flynn go,” referring to the FBI’s investigation.
"I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go,” Trump said, according to Comey. “He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go."