Published: Thu, May 17, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

Mehmet Hakan Atilla gets 32-month sentence in Iran sanctions case

Mehmet Hakan Atilla gets 32-month sentence in Iran sanctions case

The Turkish banker convicted last year of facilitating a multi-billion dollar Iranian sanctions busting plot was sentenced to just 32 months in prison Wednesday by a Manhattan federal judge, disappointing prosecutors who wanted 20 years for a crime they called a national security threat.

Atilla will be free to return to Turkey after serving his sentence.

A month later, a NY judge turned down a request by Atilla to acquit him of all charges due to lack of evidence, saying there was "sufficient evidence" to support the charges.

He was found guilty by the Jury on January 3 on charges of conspiracy to violate sanctions against Iran, conspiracy to defraud the us, bank fraud, conspiracy to commit bank fraud and money laundering conspiracy.

The judge said there will be no supervised release and Atilla would be able to go back to his country after completing his sentence.

Turkish President Erdogan has said the U.S. case was based on evidence fabricated by followers of US-based preacher Fetullah Gulen, who Ankara also accuses of carrying out the failed 2016 coup attempt.

Prosecutor Michael Lockard told U.S. District Judge Richard Berman that Atilla had played a key role in eroding sanctions created to rein in Iran's nuclear ambitions and support for terrorism, and deserved to pay a heavy price. The sanctions-evasion case, the prosecutor said, was one of the biggest in the USA history.

"Atilla appears to have been a person doing his job, sometimes reluctantly or hesitatingly, under the direction of the Halkbank general manager Mr. Aslan, who did take bribes", Berman said.

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.

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Alsan, who has been indicted for more than a year, remains at large.

"You stole my thunder, judge", Rocco said today. He demanded Atilla be sent to his family and his country.

"This is the biggest sanction evasion prosecution in the United States that we're aware of", said Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Lockard.

A Turkish banker was sentenced on Wednesday to 32 months in a U.S. prison for plotting to help Iran evade American sanctions, in an explosive case straining ties between Ankara and Washington.

A former Erdogan ally turned state enemy, Zarrab tendered an eleventh-hour guilty plea before trial that led to his dramatic testimony in NY.

On the witness stand, Zarrab said he bribed Turkish officials.

"Now apart from my family, I have no other priorities", he said.

Such testimony could have wide ramifications in Turkey if US financial regulators slap Halkbank with a fine that can roil the country's economy.

Berman has ridiculed those theories in the past, and he said that letters that he received from regular Turkish people expressed confidence in US justice.

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