Prosecutor says Turkish banker lied at trial to protect job


NEW YORK (AP) — A prosecutor says a Turkish banker lied when testifying in his defense at a New York trial that has strained relations between the U.S. and Turkey.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Lockard said Tuesday in a closing argument Mehmet Hakan Atilla lied about helping Iran evade U.S. sanctions. He says Atilla did it to protect his job and his employer, the state-owned Halkbank.

The prosecutor says Atilla helped Iran launder billions of dollars in oil revenue. Atilla has denied it.

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

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Zarrab testified he believed Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (REH’-jehp TY’-ihp UR’-doh-wahn) personally approved the sanctions-busting while he was prime minister.

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

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