Published: Thu, May 17, 2018
Global | By Marsha Munoz

Turkish Banker to Learn Fate for Busting Iran Sanctions

Turkish Banker to Learn Fate for Busting Iran Sanctions

A USA judge has sentenced a banker at Turkey's state-controlled Halkbank to 32 months in prison after he was found guilty of taking part in a scheme to help Iran evade U.S. sanctions.

A former manager at Turkey's state-run Halkbank, Atilla was convicted by a federal jury in January for helping funnel billions to Iran in violation of US sanctions.

Prosecutors had argued Mr. Atilla, who worked at Turkish state-owned bank Halkbank, helped the Iranian government illegally access billions of dollars of assets that had been frozen by the U.S. The jury absolved him of money laundering charge.

Former official at Turkey's Halkbank to serve 32 months in prison after conviction for helping Iran evade United States sanctions.

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan Monday blasted the USA government for prosecuting Atilla, calling the case "a great injustice" and claiming the US case was based on evidence fabricated by followers Fetullah Gulen, a USA -based Muslin cleric who has also been blamed for the failed 2016 Turkish coup attempt.

The ministry accused the USA court of taking false evidence and statements fabricated by supporters of Fethullah Gülen, the leader of the Gülensit terror Group (FETÖ) accused of orchestrating a failed coup in 2016, and said Atilla had been sentenced despite being innocent. The sentence means Atilla can return to Turkey in about a year.

Judge Berman noted the feverish pitch of some observers of Atilla's trial, particularly in Turkey, when he promised to make a transcript of the sentencing available to the public later Wednesday.

Judge Berman rejected the prosecution's portrayal of Atilla as the "architect of the scheme". Zarrab who became a witness in the trial accepted that he bribed Aslan and other senior officials. The bank has previously said that all of its transactions have been lawful.

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"What we need to show the world in proceedings such as this, especially today, especially now, is that we Americans aren't bullies", he said. The sanctions-evasion case, the prosecutor said, was one of the biggest in the USA history.

Atilla began his remarks by mentioning the holiday being widely celebrated back in his home country.

However, prosecutors on Wednesday noted that the government did not seek a 105-year sentence, or a life sentence for Atilla, adding that it recommended a sentence of about 20 years, some 80 years below guidelines.

Watched intensely from NY to Istanbul, the proceedings ended with a likewise extraordinary 32-month sentence, a prison term lower than what prosecutors or even defense attorneys requested.

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