Turkish banker Hakan Atilla convicted in U.S. sanctions-busting case

Turkish president stresses on peace stability in Iran

Turkey dismissed Thursday a US court conviction of a Turkish banker in connection with a billion-dollar plot to evade USA sanctions against Iran.

At the center of the three-week trial was testimony from Turkish-Iranian gold trader Reza Zarrab, who pleaded guilty to charges of violating sanctions and testified for USA prosecutors.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan on Friday warned that bilateral legal accords with the US were "losing validity", lashing out at Washington over the conviction of a Turkish banker in a USA trial.

"One of them is Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the other is the U.S. President Donald Trump".

The counts on which the banker was declared guilty included the violation of United States sanctions against Iran, crimes to deceive the USA, and defrauding American banks.

On Twitter, Turkey's deputy prime minister said the verdict against Atilla was evidence that the Central Intelligence Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation were in cahoots with Gulen.

Atilla testified in his own defense, repeatedly and forcefully denying a role in the operation which Zarrab laid out to the jury and stating he was unaware Halkbank was violating sanctions.

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".

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Acting U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim said that the two convicts were at the heart of "massive and brazen scheme that blew a billion-dollar hole in the Iran sanctions regime".

Elsewhere in his remarks, Erdogan said Turkey was keen to expand all-out relations with Iran, including in the banking sector.

Zarrab also said he paid tens of millions of dollars' worth of bribes to economy minister at the time, Zaref Caglayan, to facilitate illegal gold transactions with Iran.

Mehmet Hakan Atilla, a 47-year-old deputy general manager at Turkey's state-run Halkbank, was charged by USA authorities with taking part in a complex scheme in which Iran traded its oil and gas for gold, with some of the proceeds moved through US financial institutions without their knowledge.

After a four week trial, a USA jury found a Turkish banker guilty of helping Iran evade U.S. sanctions, APA reports quoting sputniknews. As a result of this scheme, the co-conspirators induced US banks to unknowingly process global financial transactions in violation of the IEEPA. The bank fraud counts of which Atilla was found guilty both carry a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison, while the other counts carry penalties ranging from five to 20 years.

United States 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.

But jurors found Atilla not guilty on a money laundering charge.

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