Defense: Government failed in case against Turkish banker


NEW YORK — A defense lawyer says a Turkish banker should be exonerated at a New York trial that has strained relations between the U.S. and Turkey.

Attorney Victor Rocco said Tuesday that banker Mehmet Hakan Atilla was a pawn used by his boss and a Turkish gold trader to help Iran evade U.S. economic sanctions.

Earlier, prosecutor Michael Lockard urged a Manhattan federal court jury to convict.

Lockard says Atilla helped Iran launder billions of dollars in oil revenues, including through U.S. banks. He says Atilla lied to protect his job and his employer, the state-owned Halkbank.

The trial featured testimony from wealthy gold trader Reza Zarrab, who said he bribed Turkish officials with millions of dollars.

Turkish officials say Zarrab’s testimony was coerced, an allegation the U.S. calls “ridiculous.”

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