By staff and agency

U.S. drops Iran sanctions case

June 6, 2020 - 21:39

In a rare move, federal prosecutors are seeking to withdraw a criminal case against an Iranian banker who was convicted of violating U.S. sanctions, Bloomberg reported on Saturday.

Ali Sadr Hashemi Nejad, 40, was found guilty in March of helping to funnel $115 million through the U.S. financial system to Iranian entities from a construction project in Venezuela.

In a filing on Friday in Manhattan federal court, prosecutors asked a judge for permission to drop the case, citing the likelihood of continued litigation over suppression of evidence. Given the resources that would be required to address all the evidentiary issues, continuing to pursue the case “would not be in the interest of justice,” they said.

Sadr’s lawyer, Reid Weingarten, said he and his client were sure why the government brought the “extraordinary motion” to drop the case. Weingarten had already asked U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan to dismiss the case, citing what he said was exculpatory evidence revealed by the government after the verdict, including undisclosed interviews with witnesses.

“We hope it’s that they finally saw the case as we did -- that it never should have been brought and it was compromised from the very beginning,” Weingarten said.

The prosecutors’ move is “highly unusual,” said Anthony Sabino, a law professor at the Peter J. Tobin School of Business at St. John’s University, noting that anything that could be considered exonerating needs to be turned over by prosecutors by law. “This being disclosed after the conviction is highly unusual.”

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