Turkey says USA ruling on Turkish banker illegitimate, not credible

US court used 'forged evidence' to jail Turkish banker

A Turkish banker convicted of helping Iran launder money and cover up a billion-dollar scheme to evade USA sanctions was sentenced Wednesday to 32 months in prison.

Zarrab, 34, initially pleaded not guilty then flipped, becoming a U.S. government witness after admitting being involved in the multi-billion-dollar gold-for-oil scheme to subvert USA economic sanctions against Iran. Zarrab testified for several days as the prosecutors' star witness against Atilla.

Under the sentencing, which started in the morning, Atilla's total incarceration is 32 months, with his time served subtracted from that total, meaning he will be free after 18 months.

There was no immediate response to the sentencing from the Turkish government or Halkbank. Though the prosecution has requested a 15-year jail term, it remains unclear what sentence he will be handed.

Rocco agreed that leniency was justified.


In January, a federal jury found Mehmet Hakan Atilla guilty of bank fraud, sanctions evasion and other crimes. His conviction followed a four-week trial in which Atilla testified in his own defense.

A US judge sentenced Atilla on Wednesday after he was convicted earlier this year of taking part in a scheme to help Iran evade USA sanctions, in a case that has strained ties between Washington and Ankara.

With ties between the USA and Turkey strained, and today's sentencing likely to compound this, expect Moscow to deepen the rift by seeking closer engagement with Ankara.

"By sentencing the representative of a foreign country's state bank, the court in question has made a decision on the application of regulations regarding US sanctions that has no precedent", the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

"If Hakan Atilla is going to be declared a criminal, that would be nearly equivalent to declaring the Turkish Republic a criminal", Erdogan said.

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