us-sanctions 11 June 2020

US drops sanctions-busting case against Iranian banker

The United States government has dropped its case against an Iranian banker who was found guilty of violating US sanctions against Iran and defrauding the US government, apparently over information that the US government prosecutors had withheld from the defence.

Steptoe & Johnson, representing Ali Sadr Hashemi Nejad, confirmed that the case against its client had been dropped.

‘The case against Ali Sadr was misguided from the very beginning,’ said Brian Heberlig, one of the lawyers defending him. ‘We are pleased the government has decided to drop the case but disheartened by the significant disclosure violations that led to this extraordinary request,’ he told WorldECR.

Heberlig did not say why the case had been dropped against the 40-year-old Iranian, who in March was found guilty on five counts of bank fraud, defrauding the US government in a scheme that involved Venezuela and breaching US sanctions against Iran.

Media reports suggested that prosecutors had asked for permission to drop the case due to issues related to information in possession of the US government that had not been disclosed to the defence team. The judge is reported to have said that prosecutors may face disciplinary action.

Ali Sadr, owner of the now defunct Pilatus bank in Malta, was due for sentencing in August and faced a prison sentence of up to 85 years.