Atilla sentenced to 32 months in United States prison over evading Iran sanctions

Турецкий банкир осужден в США за невыполнение санкций против Ирана

Турецкий банкир осужден в США за невыполнение санкций против Ирана

In a case that strained relations between the United States and Turkey, a judge sentenced a Turkish banker on Wednesday to just over two and a half years in prison, ignoring recommendations that he spend decades behind bars for his role in helping Iran evade US economic sanctions.

Atilla was convicted on January 3 of conspiring to violate US sanctions laws after a four-week trial in which the defendant testified in his defense. USA prosecutors had wanted him put away for 20 years.

The Turkish government did not immediately comment on the sentencing.

A Turkish banker was sentenced on Wednesday to 32 months in a U.S. prison for plotting to help Iran evade American sanctions, in an explosive case straining ties between Ankara and Washington.

Under the USA sanctions, proceeds from Iran's global oil sales were required to be deposited at a handful of major banks, including Halkbank, and could only be used under limited circumstances, such as for humanitarian aid.

"This is the biggest sanction evasion prosecution in the United States that we're aware of", said Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Lockard.

"This is a case about nuclear capability by the world's foremost state sponsor of global terrorism", he said at the sentencing.

"It is so serious that everybody is a victim of it", the prosecutor said. United States prosecutors wanted 15 years. Berman quickly rejected that, saying it wouldn't be "fair, appropriate or reasonable".

Zarrab is still awaiting sentencing, the Justice Department said.

Atilla, a 47-year-old Turkish citizen, was sentenced by US District Judge Richard Berman in Manhattan.

The judge said Atilla falsely testified at his trial on some matters but was unlikely to commit any new crimes, earned no profits directly from the fraud and had a role in the multi-year scheme that was less than many others.

The mastermind was Turkish-Iranian gold trader Reza Zarrab, who agreed to plead guilty and cooperate on the eve of trial, spending several days on the witness stand.

Mr. Atilla will be credited with the time he has spent in jail since his March 2017 arrest. He is married to Turkish pop star and TV personality Ebru Gundes. In addition to implicating Atilla, Zarrab described a vast bribery and corruption scheme that involved millions in payments to government ministers and banking executives, all done with the blessing of Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Watched intensely from NY to Istanbul, the proceedings ended with a likewise extraordinary 32-month sentence, a prison term lower than what prosecutors or even defense attorneys requested.

And though Turkish bank and government officials were paid millions in bribes, Berman noted Atilla derived no benefit from the scheme.

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