Turkish banker asks US judge for leniency

Turkish banker asks US judge for leniency

NEW YORK – Anadolu Agency
Turkish banker asks US judge for leniency

Lawyers of a former Turkish banker convicted of violating United States sanctions against Iran asked the judge in New York for a “fair and merciful” sentence.

The lawyers of Mehmet Hakan Atilla, former deputy CEO of Turkey’s majority state-owned Halkbank, sent a 75-page letter to the court on March 26, in which they called on trial judge Richard Berman to deliver a “fair and merciful” sentence.

The lawyers said they had calculated that, according to federal guidelines, Atilla should receive a sentence of 46 to 57 months (four to five years). They added that the sentence should be even lower.

To support their claims, they said evidence showed Atilla had actually been used by businessman Rıza Sarrab, described as the “architect of this plot.”

Rıza Sarrab, who was arrested in the U.S. in March 2016, accused of violating U.S. sanctions on Iran, had pleaded guilty in the case last October and cooperated with prosecutors. He testified against Atilla.

In the letter, the lawyers called the case “unique” and said Atilla had been in court while international banks violating the sanctions against Iran only received fines. They added that other foreign bankers had not been punished.

On Jan. 3, Atilla was found guilty by a jury on five counts related to conspiracy and bank fraud but was acquitted of money laundering.

On Feb. 7, a New York judge turned down Atilla’s request to acquit him of all charges due to lack of evidence and said there was sufficient evidence supporting the accusations.

The sentence is expected to be pronounced at Atilla’s next hearing, set for April 11.