Jury convicts Turkish banker in Iran sanctions evasion scheme

Jury convicts Turkish banker in Iran sanctions evasion scheme

A Manhattan federal jury on Wednesday convicted Mehmet Hakan Atilla, a Turkish banker charged with helping Iran evade billions of dollars of USA sanctions, finding him guilty on five of six criminal counts after a high-profile trial that roiled Turkish politics. He was acquitted of one count of money laundering.

Zarrab, a Turkish-Iranian, described a multi-billion dollar scheme that he said was personally authorised by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan while he was prime minister and involved bribes to other senior Turkish government officials. However, in late November, Zarrab pled out, making him a witness for the prosecution.

Turkish banker Hakan Atilla was found guilty in a USA court of violating Washington's sanctions against Iran.

The conclusion of the trial against Mehmet Hakan Atilla, the deputy director general of Halkbank, has done nothing to ease the frictions it has inflamed between the USA and Turkey, however.

The government's star witness, the flamboyant Turkish-Iranian gold trader Reza Zarrab, testified against Atilla.

Victor Rocco, one of Atilla's lawyers, told reporters that the banker would ask Berman to overturn the verdict and would appeal if necessary. "But you can't do both", Kim said in a statement.


"A final ruling on this will mean nothing to us", Gul said.

Prosecutors said Atilla was a critical part of the plot - a sanctions expert at Halkbank, who helped bank officials who were taking bribes and Zarrab fend off questions from the United States. The Turks have always been critical of Syrian President Bashar Assad - in fact, Erdogan called him a "terrorist" just last week and insisted he should have no role in the future of Syria - while Iran provided vital military support to the Damascus dictatorship.

David Cohen and Adam Szubin, two former Treasury Department undersecretaries testified that Halkbank officials repeatedly reassured them their gold-trader clients, including Zarrab, were in compliance with US sanctions against Iran.

Rouhani, for his part, said the Iranian people were free to protest within the framework of law, adding that the nation's security was of high significance to the government, which would not sit idly by in the face of any act of violence or illegal measure.

USA authorities in late March 2016 arrested Hakan Atilla at New York's JFK airport accusing him of helping Iran evade sanctions during Former President Barack Obama's term.

In a television interview on Thursday, Bozdag described the USA jury's decision as "completely political", but insisted that the verdict would have "no chance of possible economic damage to Turkey's strong economy".

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