US judge sentences ex-<a title=’Halkbank’ href=’/search/Halkbank’>Halkbank</a> executive Hakan Atilla to 32 months in prison
“The United States District Court for the Southern District of New York sentenced Mehmet Hakan Atilla, the Deputy Director General of Halkbank, despite being not guilty, to 32 months of imprisonment after an entirely feigned process which is inconsistent with the principle of fair trial,” read a written statement issued by the Foreign Ministry late on May 16.
“By convicting a foreign government official, this court made an unprecedented decision regarding the implementation of the U.S. sanctions legislation,” it said, claiming that the case was based on “fabricated evidence.”
“The Court’s reliance on forged evidence and false statements fabricated by the members of the Fetullahist Terrorist Organization, eradicated the legitimacy of the trial. The credibility of the legal proceedings has vanished completely,” it recalled.
Atilla was sentenced on May 16 to 32 months in a U.S. prison but he will stay in jail for 18 months as he has already spent 14 months behind bars. He was convicted by a New York jury on Jan. 3 on five counts of bank fraud and conspiracy.
His conviction hinged on the testimony of Turkish-Iranian gold trader Reza Zarrab, who was arrested by U.S. authorities in 2016 after jetting to Florida with his celebrity wife and child on a family holiday to Disney World.
Zarrab, 34, initially pleaded not guilty then flipped, becoming a U.S. government witness after admitting to being involved in the multi-billion-dollar gold-for-oil scheme to subvert U.S. economic sanctions against Iran.