Published: Fri, January 12, 2018
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

U.S. interfering in Turkey's internal affairs: foreign ministry

U.S. interfering in Turkey's internal affairs: foreign ministry

A NY jury convicted Turkish banker Hakan Atilla in a US sanctions-busting case that has increased tensions between the two countries.

Prosecutors have also charged Turkish-Iranian business tycoon Reza Zarrab and his co-conspirators of handling hundreds of millions of United States dollars for Iran's government and Iranian entities from 2010 to 2015.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is trying to bring Turkey's relations with European nations back on track following a stormy 2017 that saw the Turkish leader quarrel with European leaders and accuse them of Nazi-like behavior.

Seven other people have been charged, but only Atilla and Zarrab were in US custody.

Zarrab testified that Atilla helped design fraudulent transactions of gold and food that allowed Iran to spend its oil and gas revenues overseas, including through USA financial institutions, defying US sanctions. His lawyers have stressed they will appeal the verdict.

Atilla, 47, was found to have conspired with a gold trader, Reza Zarrab, and others to help Iran escape sanctions by disguising financial transactions as humanitarian food payments.

Last week, Turkish Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gul sent a letter to US Attorney General Jeff Sessions demanding that Korkmaz be sent back to Turkey because he is "a fugitive, a terror suspect facing serious allegations".

USA prosecutors said Atilla, 47, participated in a scheme to launder $1 billion of Iranian oil and gas revenue through us banks in violation of us sanctions.

They acquitted Atilla on a single money laundering count, but convicted him on five conspiracy and bank fraud counts.

"Today, after a full, fair, and open trial, a unanimous jury convicted Hakan Atilla, a senior banker at Halk Bank", said Acting U.S. Attorney Kim. This sanctions regime prohibits, among other things, financial transactions involving the United States or United States persons that were intended for the Government of Iran or Iranian entities.

A US jury on Wednesday found a Turkish banker guilty of helping Iran evade USA sanctions, after a almost four-week trial that has strained diplomatic relations between the United States and Turkey.

The bank underlined that Halkbank always adheres to national and worldwide regulations in all its business and transactions, and also puts utmost effort to improve its compliance policy further within the framework of global standards.

Atilla's sentencing is scheduled for April 11, while Zarrab's date is not yet planned.

USA authorities in late March 2016 arrested Hakan Atilla at New York's JFK airport accusing him of helping Iran evade sanctions during Former President Barack Obama's term.

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