he U.S. Justice Department has launched an inquiry into possible foreign lobbying for Turkey by former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday.
Over the past year, Giuliani, a close ally and personal lawyer for former U.S. President President Donald Trump, has been fielding questions as to whether he pushed for the Turkish government’s agenda over the deportation of Fethullah Gülen, an Islamist preacher Ankara blames for a coup attempt in 2016, and the dropping of money-laundering charges against gold trader Reza Zarrab.
Giuliani, for his part, has denied lobbying for Turkish interests, with Washington not accusing him of wrongdoing on the matter.
However, should the government decide that the former NY mayor acted for a foreign interest, Bloomberg said, it could issue a determination letter requiring him to register as a lobbyist while disclose all details of contacts he had both Turkish and U.S. officials concerning Zarrab and Gülen.
The non-criminal Turkey inquiry focuses on whether Giuliani lobbied the Trump administration on behalf of foreign interests, Bloomberg said, noting that the U.S. Justice Department generally resorts to a “softer approach’’ when it thinks failure to register wasn’t intentional.
The Turkey probe is separate from a criminal inquiry into Giuliani’s activities in Ukraine, Bloomberg said, citing people familiar with the matter.
The Turkish government began sweeping purges of people it accused of links to the Gülen movement following the July 2016 coup attempt. The movement’s U.S.-based leader denies any involvement. Ankara has unsuccessfully requested Gülen’s extradition from the United States.
Zarrab was arrested in Miami on March 19, 2016 and pleaded guilty to various crimes related to fraud and money laundering before becoming a U.S. government witness in return for leniency.
The businessman’s testimony helped convict Mehmet Hakan Atilla, a former deputy CEO at Turkey’s state-run Halkbank, for breaking sanctions on Iran.