Turkish Banker Sentenced To 32 Months In Iran Sanctions Case

Posted May 17, 2018

The Turkish government did not immediately comment on the sentencing.

On Wednesday, Atilla, convicted of violating U.S. sanctions on Iran, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Richard Berman to 32 months in prison.

Atilla has already served 14 months in prison since his arrest a year ago during a business trip to NY.

However, Judge Berman said before imposing his sentence that the evidence presented at trial showed Atilla was a minor player in the sanctions-dodging scheme, and "at times a reluctant one at that", largely following orders from his supervisor.

Atilla was found guilty on 3 January of conspiring to violate United States sanctions law.

Prosecutors had sought a sentence of about 20 years for Atilla, a 47-year-old Turkish citizen.

The defendant's lawyers had argued that federal guidelines recommended a term of just 46 to 57 months, and asked for a sentence "dramatically below" that length.

Zarrab, who has yet to be sentenced, testified during Atilla's trial that he bribed Turkish officials, and that Erdogan personally signed off on parts of the scheme while serving as Turkey's prime minister.

TRT World's Andrew Hopkins has the latest.

Turkey's Foreign Ministry said Atilla's sentencing was not legitimate or credible due to what it said was false evidence and statements fabricated by supporters of US -based cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Ankara accuses of orchestrating a failed coup in 2016.

Indeed, the US-based prosecution has alleged that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan greenlighted the evasion scheme, which has prompted Erdogan to hit back with accusations that Washington is hatching a plot to undermine his country's reputation.

"There is a judicial procedure and the lawyers of Halkbank especially are following this judicial process".

"I hope it doesn't yield a result that will completely destroy Turkish-U.S. relations", Mr. Erdogan told Bloomberg.

"We want his acquittal, because there's no crime".

The 32-month sentence for Halkbank's Mehmet Hakan Atilla by the District Court for the Southern District of NY was "inconsistent with the principle of a fair trial", said Turkey's Foreign Ministry in a statement.