May 16 2018

Sentencing hearing for Turkish banker in Iran sanctions case to take place today

Turkish banker Hakan Atilla, convicted on January of taking part in a billion-dollar Iran sanctions-busting scheme, in a case which pointed to a high-level corruption in Turkey, resumes today with the long-awaited sentencing hearing, secular daily Cumhuriyet daily reported.

On Jan. 3, the jury found Atilla guilty of five charges, including conspiracy to violate U.S. sanctions law. This was done through the Turkish state-owned Halkbank, where Atilla worked as an executive. The court heard that he had used this position to set up mechanisms allowing Iran to move its money internationally by trading gold and imaginary food exports.

The prosecution recommended a sentence of over 15 years for offenses it said were “in some respects without parallel,” adding that they had created “immense risks” to U.S. national security.

Atilla’s highly publicized four-week long trial revealed a flurry of alleged misdeeds by top-ranking officials in Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), including President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who was said to have given the greenlight for the scheme, and former economy minister Zafer Çağlayan, who allegedly took massive bribes during the scheme.

U.S. judge Richard Berman delayed the sentencing hearing twice; once, citing issues raised by lawyers for both sides in their sentencing submissions, and the second time due to the unavailability of Turkish translators.