HomeTop Stories On TurkeyReza Zarrab's New Life as Aaron Goldsmith in Miami

Reza Zarrab’s New Life as Aaron Goldsmith in Miami

TR724 author Adem Yavuz Arslan located Reza Zarrab, who went off into the blue, in Miami and recorded his new life. Here is nowhere to be found special details of the sequences of Reza Zarrab’s new life. TR724 located Reza Zarrab who most recently testified as a “star witness” in the Halkbank trial in New York on 8 December 2017 and vanished into thin air since then.

Reza Zarrab settled in the Davie area, one of the popular places in the U.S. near the city of Miami in Florida. Zarrab, who changed his name to Aaron Goldsmith and set up a horse farm to provide services with expensive horses, lives in a million-dollar mansion with his new girlfriend.

FROM PHILANTHROPIST BUSINESSMAN TO ESPIONAGE!

Let’s have a reminder before getting into details.

Because Zarrab has been off the grid for a very long time. All of the news about the scandals involving his name has been carefully destroyed by the Erdogan regime. Therefore, there may be people who do not know the importance of Zarrab or remember the details of the scandal.

Reza Zarrab is his original name in Iranian. But his Turkish citizenship name, which he acquired with a bribe, is Riza Sarraf. And his new name in the U.S. is Aaron Goldsmith. And it is an interesting fact that he has a reference to being a “jeweler” in his surnames in three different languages. 

Reza Zarrab, who has been the main focus of Turkey’s agenda for the last ten years, certainly has a very extraordinary life story.

Although nobody knows what he does or where he obtained the title of being a “businessman”, Reza Zarrab managed to attract the attention of the Erdogan regime in record time as a man who played with millions of dollars in his twenties.

So much so that, Erdogan and the ministers of AKP (Justice and Development Party) were falling to their knees in front of him when he was only 26.

He bribed the high-ranking bureaucrats, politicians, and managers of the partisan media only to counterfeit that virtually ridiculed Turkey. 

He was mainly a news subject because of his marriage with Ebru Gundes until the 17-25 December Corruption and Bribery Operation when he made the headlines not only in Turkey but in the world after the related scandal was surfaced. 

At the same time, this was a turning point for Erdogan.

Erdogan, who wrapped himself up in being the “leader of the ummah” (in Sedat Peker’s words) until then, was labeled as the “extorter of the ummah”. 

Turkey entered a brand-new era on the morning of 17 December 2013 after a series of detentions which included some of the ministers’ children, high-ranking bureaucrats, and businessmen. Erdogan stated that it was “a coup made against the government” and made his own coup to the judiciary and police after being caught red-handed.

Police officials and prosecutors were arrested, and the bribe-takers were televised as heroes with Turkish flags behind them. Erdogan put his signature on one of the largest genocide practices in the history of Turkey by using this investigation as an excuse.

Erdogan described the police officials and prosecutors as “Cemaatci” (communitarians) and ordered the arrests of tens of thousands of people which basically paved the way for him to be able to press the button for the one-man regime that reach forth July 15th.

In a nutshell, the most critical name during this extraordinary period was Reza Zarrab. Therefore, it is a must to mention Reza Zarrab’s name when the history of Turkey is being written. 

Reza Zarrab returned back to his “old profession”, in other words to money laundering, fraud, and forgery after he was out of prison. He touched elbows with Erdogan and his son-in-law Berat Albayrak. And finally, Zarrab went to the U.S. in March 2016 and got arrested while Erdogan and his family were getting on in the world.  

This trip is still a mystery.

In other words, why did someone like Zarrab come to the U.S. knowing he was going to be arrested? How did MIT (National Intelligence Service of Turkey) under Hakan Fidan allow Zarrab to travel? Still a mystery.

However, we could say that this date is when the nightmares for Erdogan started.

Because Zarrab was arrested in Miami and moved to New York for trial with a journey like a movie. I was in the courtroom that day. (https://www.tr724.com/o-eski-halinden-eser-yok-simdi-ya-da-prangali-zarrab/)

Zarrab wore a navy-blue jumpsuit, and his feet were shackled. 

Zarrab, for whom Erdogan burned an entire country, was breathing in a different universe. Because Zarrab made a plea deal and turned into an informant and shared every information and document he has to the court.  (https://www.tr724.com/zarrab-davesi-artik-milli-guvenlik-meselesidir-adem-yavuz-arslan-yazdi/)

Zarrab testified 8 hours a day for 7 days in court as the star witness of the trial where the then Halkbank Deputy General Manager Hakan Atilla faced charges as the defendant in December 2017.

I had [narrated these trials] (link) from the very first day until the verdict by following them hour by hour and day by day. Zarrab explained the fictitious exports, counterfeit gold trade, money laundering, and bribes one by one.  (https://www.tr724.com/askida-juri-sovmen-reza/)

Zarrab drew on the board in the middle of the court and unveiled a part of the entire crime structure down to the smallest detail “like a university professor”, as the U.S. media put it.

The things he told clearly showed why Erdogan and his family were in a great panic because everything happened with Erdogan’s instructions and approval. The things Zarrab told were more than enough to confirm Erdogan’s panic.

Because Zarrab confessed about all the scams one by one that was being run through Halkbank. 

And Erdogan started spending all his working hours on Zarrab after he escaped to the U.S.  He signed million-dollar lobby agreements just to save him. He hired the close friends of Donald Trump and former New York Mayor Rudy Guiliani. (https://www.tr724.com/ver-zarrabi-al-denklemi-ya-da-turkiyedeki-abdlileri-bekleyen-tehlike/)

Serdar Kilic, the ambassador back then, worked almost like AKP’s Washington Provincial Chairman and spent all his time on Zarrab. Erdogan even brought up this matter during his meeting with today’s President and then-Vice President Joe Biden. And it was still not enough, and his wife Emine Erdogan requested Zarrab from Jill Biden at a summit held in New York in September 2016.

Erdogan approached the Trump administration in order to save Zarrab and held Pastor Brunson, who has been living in Turkey for more than two decades, as a hostage against Zarrab. Furthermore, Turkey sent two consecutive diplomatic notes for the first time in the country’s history to the U.S. for Zarrab.

In the meantime, Zarrab, who had turned the prison in New York, Manhattan upside down with bribery, drugs, alcohol, women, and everything else you could look for in Erdogan’s philanthropic businessman, decided to turn into an informant. 

And subsequently, he appeared in court and took the stand only to confess everything during the trial where Hakan Atilla was the defendant.

The things he told would be a downfall for governments, politicians, and bureaucrats in a normal country, but it did not happen in Turkey. The investigators, who carried out the investigations in the court file of Zarrab that is verified in the U.S., were arrested with their spouses and children.

Let me remind you of an important detail at this point; the million-dollar attorneys’ fees of the then Halkbank Deputy General Manager Hakan Atilla were paid by the government.

In other words, personally by Erdogan.

However, the lawyers, who were paid by Turkey and followed very closely by Erdogan, told the court: “Reza Zarrab is guilty, he bribed people; some politicians and bureaucrats immorally and shamelessly received such bribes but the defendant Hakan Atilla in this courtroom never received a bribe”. (https://www.tr724.com/zarrab-davasindan-ne-ogrendik/)

In other words, Turkey’s lawyers deep-sixed Erdogan’s coup thesis.

Zarrab took the stand for the last time on 8 December 2016, testified, and walked out of the courtroom. It was suggested that he was in a witness protection program, moved to another country and so forth but nobody had seen neither hide nor hair of him for the last 4 years.

In the meantime, Zarrab and his relatives were deemed as “spies” and all of their properties were confiscated. Moreover, the million-dollar racehorses were hung out to dry.

FIRST IMAGE AFTER FOUR YEARS

I kept the introduction section long because it is possible to talk about Zarrab’s actions and stories for hours and write numerous pages. In short, he is an important man, and whatever he is doing or wherever he is, his new life is newsworthy. 

We have been asking “Where is Zarrab?” until today but I only received a piece of tangible information a month ago.

Besides, it was very extraordinary.

Let me summarize what happened. One of my readers told me that he lives in Miami and makes a living from Uber and one of his passengers he picked up from a luxurious venue looked a lot like Zarrab, and he realized Zarrab’s Iranian accent and Zarrab stopped talking to him after he found out the driver was Turkish.  

reza zarrab-horse

I rolled my sleeves up and gave chase to Zarrab through the address details I obtained.

In fact, I was just pulling the rope. Meaning, I was tracing him from open sources. I managed to reveal everything about Zarrab after two weeks.

His new company, new name, a new house which looks like a mansion… In short, I had Zarrab’s new life inside my hands with all the details. The only thing at that point was to go to Miami and knock at Zarrab’s door.

And I exactly did that.

ZARRAB WAS SHOCKED

Miami is one of the most popular places in the U.S.

That’s why it was in the top two of Zarrab’s “list of places to be”. I mean, we are talking about Zarrab after all, he would not settle in Wyoming or Montana.

I thought it could be either Miami or Los Angeles.

Zarrab settled in Miami’s Davie district, favored mostly by wealthy white Americans. I found the rental contract for his house. All of the information such as how many rooms there are in the house, when was it built, what is the size of the pool, how much does it cost, etc. are all available in the open sources.  

There is a large pool in the garden of the house which has 5 rooms and 4 bathrooms. Most recently, it was sold for 1.5 million dollars according to the real estate records.

However, I could not manage to grab any imageries waiting in front of his house since he lives in a gated community. They really go down hard on security. It is a place where you cannot enter if you do not live there or someone who lives there does not call the gate to let you in.

It is quite obvious why Zarrab chose this community to live in.

I toured around his house but did not manage to have a sight of Zarrab. Instead, I got to see his dogs.

My second stop was a nearby horse farm.

This was one of the details that made the intelligence tangible. Because we knew Zarrab had an interest in horses. His million-dollar horses were racing in the hippodromes, and he gave his then-wife Ebru Gundes a million-dollar horse as a gift.

For example, his horse named “Dayim Benim” (My Uncle) was quite popular. Likewise, “Forget Me Not” and “Duty Free” horses had already become bywords.

I tracked down that horse from through the official records. Such records are accessible by everybody in the U.S. You can locate such details about a company if you know where to look at.  

Zarrab, with his new name Aaron Goldsmith, established the company with an Iranian partner called Manuchehr Negahban. Zarrab is titled as the “chairman”, and Manuchehr is the “director” according to the company records.

This is a stud farm that will provide services to million-dollar racehorses.

It was built on a 20-acre land, and it is quite obvious that they went to great expense to build it. Unquestionably, the land and the facilities built on it are worth millions of dollars.

I know that Zarrab, with his new name Aaron Goldsmith, is here but I could not manage to get a glimpse of him because he never goes outside.

Then, I went into his workplace headlong.

I asked where the “boss” was to the workers who were busy with landscaping. They said he was “around somewhere in the back”. 

After the second worker, bingo. Zarrab was right in front of me.

I told him that I was a journalist and came from Washington D.C. in order to talk to him after greeting each other in English.

He was surprised.

He did not know what to say. He did not want to talk in Turkish as you can see in the footage.

I told him that he knew Turkish anyway, but he insisted on speaking English. And when I asked him that I wanted to make an interview, he said that I was “in violation of a private property and I had to leave”.

To my regret, I was alone.

I mean I could not manage to drive, talk to Zarrab, and videotape him all at the same time since I did not have a driver or a cameraman with me.

I had turned on the camera of my mobile phone and put it just like a navigation device while I was going inside. However, Zarrab was left out of the frame since he came from the side. Nevertheless, I could manage to get a glimpse of him while he was running inside.

Then I went to the road next to the stud farm.

There wasn’t anything wrong to wait there since it is a public place. One of his men approached me while I was thinking that I could videotape him or hand the microphone to him if he gets out. For some reason, he brought a dog with him and acrimoniously tried the door handle of the car.

I locked the doors and stepped on the gas since this unfriendly individual tried to open the door. Because it was quite obvious that they were not well-intentioned from the way he talked and his gestures.

I called Zarrab right away when I arrived at the hotel after I left the place.

You can see this dialogue in the video. Zarrab hung up saying it was a wrong number. And he did not pick up after I re-dialed.

He did not answer my messages either.

ZARRAB SHUT DOWN HIS FACEBOOK PAGE AT LIGHTNING SPEED

In the meantime, he cleaned up his Facebook pages in an applaudable timeframe.

All of his social media pages that were online before my visit vanished into thin air. Fortunately, I had already saved all of the details about Zarrab and his workplace, information about his partner, and also the pictures of his girlfriend.  

I followed the places Zarrab may potentially visit and tried to catch him in public places but Zarrab, I mean Aaron Goldsmith, did not reveal himself ever again.

So, this is the summary of the story behind the reappearance of Zarrab after four years. Let me emphasize the following at this point: Zarrab is a very important man and he has a lot more things to say. I, just like any other journalist, wanted to locate and interview him. 

Besides, Zarrab was in my agenda since 2013.

I would have asked my questions and received his answers in a civilized manner should he have accepted my interview offer. However, he did not, and he chose to run away and sic his men on me.

Nevertheless, this situation did not prevent me from obtaining information about Zarrab’s new life.

Yes, Zarrab, whom Erdogan described as a philanthropic businessman and burned an entire country for his sake, lives among the wealthy Americans now in a million-dollar mansion with his expert riding instructor girlfriend and owns a company that provides services for million-dollar racehorses. 

He has high self-confidence.

Because despite everything, he lets his photos be taken and does not object to his friends posting them on their Facebook pages. He removed all of them of course when I found him but most of the photos you have seen are the Facebook posts he was aware of.

He appears in the nightlife of Miami and continues his luxurious life.

As for the answer to the million-dollar question; Zarrab did not change his face or have any cosmetic surgery.

He is the same Zarrab you know.

He is only thinner and fitter.

The fact that he has not been included in the witness protection program yet means that it is highly likely for us to see him taking the stand again in the Halkbank trial that will start in the upcoming period.

This article first appeared at TR724.COM.

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Adem Yavuz Arslan
Adem Yavuz Arslan
Adem Yavuz Aslan is a leading Turkish investigative journalist in exile based in Washington, D.C.
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