March 19, 2018

Turkey Rejects US Conviction of Turkish Banker

12 January 2018, 07:40 | Opal Carroll

Turkish president stresses on peace, stability in Iran

Turkish president stresses on peace stability in Iran

"Based on the so-called "evidence", which are forged and susceptible to political manipulation, and dwelling on Turkey's internal affairs on a fictitious basis, the US court has been drawn into Turkey's domestic affairs in an unprecedented way", the Turkish foreign ministry said in a statement.

A US federal jury in Manhattan has found a Turkish banker guilty of helping Iran evade USA sanctions, convicting him on five of the six charges he faced.

The statement slammed the trial was based on evidence which was fake and open to political exploitation.

According to the ruling, Atilla's guilty counts include violating USA sanctions against Iran, crimes to deceive the US and defrauding USA banks.

When that failed, Zarrab agreed to plead guilty and lay out the story in court just a few weeks before the trial was to begin, leaving Atilla alone at the defense table.

Atilla was convicted on five counts of conspiracy and bank fraud. The 47-year-old Turkish national was acquitted on a charge of money laundering.

Boente and Acting U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim for the Southern District of NY made the announcement.

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The Turkish police officer, Huseyin Korkmaz, testified that he was a top investigator in a smuggling and bribery probe that led to the jailing of Zarrab and others in the sanctions scheme in 2013. Zarrab testified at the trial that Erdogan had ordered the transactions go forward. Erdogan has repeatedly criticized the US, accusing Washington of trying to interfere with Turkey's politics, and aiming to harm the country's ruling government.

Ties between Turkey and the USA have been strained over a number of issues including Washington's refusal to extradite the Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen, whom Ankara blames for orchestrating the failed 2016 coup.

A senior government official in Turkey said Wednesday's verdict was "void".

The Foreign Ministry which has so far issued two diplomatic protestations over the case said the ruling was "unjust and unfortunate". Atilla is scheduled to be sentenced on April 11, before Judge Berman.

"The case is not a plot against America, it's a plot against Turkey", Erdogan told supporters in a speech on December 5.

Atilla denied all the charges and his lawyers sought to portray him as a "helpless pawn" and as a lowly bureaucrat who was not present at key meetings where the scheme was hatched. Mr. Atilla's employer, Halkbank, said that he would appeal the decision, and noted that it had not been indicted or involved in the court proceedings.

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