Turkish banker to be sentenced in U.S. court, straining relations

Турецкий банкир осужден в США за невыполнение санкций против Ирана

Turkish banker to be sentenced in U.S. court, straining relations

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

Prosecutors identified Turkish-Iranian gold trader Reza Zarrab as the central figure in the scheme. His client might be freed earlier since the 14 months he has spent in prison since his arrest in 2017 might count toward his court sentence.

Atilla's conviction hinged on the testimony of Turkish-Iranian gold trader Reza Zarrab, who was arrested by United States authorities in 2016 after jetting to Florida with his pop-star wife and child on a family holiday to Disney World.

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Lawyers for Atilla said they would nonetheless appeal.

There was no immediate response to the sentencing from the Turkish government or Halkbank.

However, prosecutors on Wednesday noted that the government did not seek a 105-year sentence, or a life sentence for Atilla, adding that it recommended a sentence of about 20 years, some 80 years below guidelines.

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"What we need to show the world in proceedings such as this, especially today, especially now, is that we Americans aren't bullies", he said.

Mehmet Hakan Atilla was convicted in January for participating in a plot to help Iran spend billions of its oil and gas revenues in other other countries through Halkbank, Turkey's state-controlled bank.

Earlier in 2018, Atilla was convicted of taking part in a scheme to help Iran evade US sanctions.

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In a 75-page petition to the court, Atilla's lawyers asked the judge for a "fair and merciful" sentence of between four to five years, more than the under-three-year sentence given Wednesday. The ministry stated the US court docket relied on "solid proof and false statements" from members of the community of a USA -based cleric accused of trying to overthrow the Turkish authorities.

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