Bankers Beware, US Says, Touting Turk’s Prosecution

ADAM KLASFELD - - MANHATTAN (CN) — The major players behind the 2008 global financial crisis may be free, but a Turkish bank manager’s prosecution for facilitating billions in illicit trades with Iran proves that the financial sector isn’t “too big to jail,” a U.S. prosecutor said on Tuesday. Facing the possibility of decades behind bars, Turkish national Mehmet Hakan Atilla has vigorously maintained his innocence throughout two days of cross-examination about his work at Turkey’s state-run Halkbank, the nation’s sixth largest bank. Directly after leaving the witness stand, Atilla jumped out of the frying pan and into the fire of a prosecutor’s heated summation. Defense attorneys have depicted Atilla as one of 13 managers who improbably found himself at the center of a geopolitical drama.

US Trial of Turkish Banker Not Legal, Should Be Ended: Justice Minister

Justice Minister Abdulhamit Gül has said he will tell his U.S. counterpart Jeff Sessions that the New York trial of former Halkbank deputy general manager Hakan Atilla, charged with helping Iran evade U.S. sanctions, is “not legal and should be ended.” Gül told private broadcaster 24 TV on the morning of Dec. 19 that it would be “impossible to accept a verdict contrary to Turkey’s interests” in the case, which has strained ties between the NATO allies. Atilla, 47, was arrested earlier this year in the United States for violating U.S. sanctions on Iran. He is now the sole man on the dock accused of violating sanctions on Iran, bribery and money laundering, after Turkish-Iranian businessman Reza Zarrab, 34, pleaded guilty to the charges and is now a state’s witness.

Reza Zarrab Testifies for Seven Days in "US Against Atilla" Case

On November 28, US prosecutors on “the US against Reza Zarrab” case revealed that Zarrab had gone from being a defendant in the case to a witness. Zarrab, a businessman who holds both Iranian and Turkish citizenship, made an agreement with the prosecutor’s office and pleaded guilty. He put former deputy CEO of Turkish state-run Halkbank at the centre of all accusations. “By testifying against Mehmet [Hakan] Atilla, Zarrab hopes he can buy freedom, a shortcut back to his lavish life with the rich and famous. He’s a liar, a cheater, a corrupter of men on a staggering scale…a one-man crime wave,” said Victor Rocco, the attorney of Mehmet Hakan Atilla, who has denied any wrongdoing. Zarrab’s testimony started in Federal District Court in Manhattan the following day on December 29.

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