U.S. court upholds Turkish banker’s conviction in Iran sanctions-busting case

A U.S. federal appeals panel on Monday said Turkish banker Mehmet Hakan Atilla was property convicted in an Iran sanctions-busting case, AP reported.

Atilla, a former executive at Turkey's state-run Halkbank, received a fair trial following his arrest in 2017 during a business trip to the United States and the evidence against him was "overwhelming", the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan said.

Atilla was convicted in 2018 for his role in role in circumventing U.S. sanctions against Iran between 2010 and 2016. The former Halkbank CEO received a 32-month jail sentence for his role in a multi-billion-dollar scheme and was released in July of last year. The trial is among the string of events that strained Turkish-U.S. relations.

There was sufficient evidence to support the jury's guilty verdict, a three-judge panel said, citing wiretapped conversations and hundreds of documents, which revealed that “Atilla was a knowing participant in the sanctions evasion scheme that involved routing hundreds of millions of dollars through the U.S. financial system.”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has called Atilla's conviction on five charges a “scandalous verdict” and his government in October appointed him head of the Istanbul stock exchange.

Meanwhile, the trial of Halkbank on charges of money laundering and U.S. sanctions evasion in favour of Iran is set to commence on March 1, 2021.