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

Former official at Turkey's Halkbank to serve 32 months in prison after conviction for helping Iran evade US sanctions.

    A US judge has sentenced a banker at Turkey's state-controlled Halkbank to 32 months in prison after he was found guilty of taking part in a scheme to help Iran evade US sanctions.

    Mehmet Hakan Atilla, a 47-year-old Turkish citizen, was sentenced on Wednesday by District Judge Richard Berman in New York.

    The case has strained diplomatic relations between the United States and Turkey, and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has condemned it as a political attack on his government.

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

    Lawyers for Atilla had sought a sentence of under four years. US prosecutors wanted 15 years. 

    WATCH: US - Turkish banker Hakan Atilla convicted in Iran sanctions case (2:08)

    They said Atilla, who worked as a deputy general manager at Halkbank, was involved in a scheme to help Iran spend oil and gas revenues abroad using fraudulent gold and food transactions through Halkbank, violating US sanctions.

    According to prosecutors, the central figure in the scheme was wealthy Turkish-Iranian gold trader Reza Zarrab, who pleaded guilty to fraud, conspiracy and money-laundering charges.

    Zarrab, who is yet to be sentenced, testified for several days as the US government's star witness against Atilla.

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

    Erdogan has said the US case was based on evidence fabricated by followers of US-based Muslim scholar Fethullah Gulen, whom he has blamed for a 2016 coup attempt.

    The Turkish president has repeatedly condemned Atilla's conviction, most recently in an interview with Bloomberg Television on Tuesday.

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

    Atilla was arrested in New York in March 2017, a year after Zarrab's arrest in Florida.

    SOURCE: News agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Survivor stories from Super Typhoon Haiyan

    Survivor stories from Super Typhoon Haiyan

    The Philippines’ Typhoon Haiyan was the strongest storm ever to make landfall. Five years on, we revisit this story.

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    Russian-Saudi relations could be very different today, if Stalin hadn't killed the Soviet ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

    Thou Shalt Not Kill: Israel's Hilltop Youth

    Thou Shalt Not Kill: Israel's Hilltop Youth

    Meet the hardline group willing to do anything, including going against their government, to claim land for Israel.