U.S. jury found ex-Halkbank manager guilty of helping Iran evade sanctions
The jurors of the New York court that deliberated on Turkish state lender Halkbank’s former manager Mehmet Hakan Atilla found him guilty on five counts, and not guilty on one.
Atilla was charged with bank fraud and four separate conspiracy charges as part of an alleged Turkish scheme to evade U.S. sanctions on Iran. Atilla is not found guilty on money laundering charge.
He could now face up to decades in prison, Washington Post reported.
Atilla has pleaded ‘not guilty,’ saying he acted within the law while the government portrayed Atilla as the ‘architect’ of the sanction-busting scheme.
Former co-defendant of Atilla, Turkish gold-trader Reza Zarab, who turned government witness before the trial, has testified that while Atilla helped designing the scheme, but never received a bribe.
Atilla’s defence lawyers submitted mistral motions twice, AP reported, but U.S. District Judge Richard Berman has rejected them, saying Atilla received a “thoroughly fair and transparent trial.”
The trial has angered Turkey government officials, who say it is designed to discredit the government of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, AP said.
“[The New York trial has] nothing to do with law, justice or trade,” Erdoğan was quoted as saying.
Following the verdict, prosecutors from the U.S. Southern District of New York Attorney's Office released a statement, saying:
Today after a full, fair, and open trial, a unanimous jury convicted Hakan Atilla. Along with the prior guilty plea of Reza Zarrab, two men at the heart of this massive and brazen scheme that blew a million-dollar hole in the Iran sanctions regime now stand convicted.
Atilla's defence lawyer Cathy Fleming said they will appeal the court's verdict.