Economy, Domestic Economy

US to Appeal Sentence of Turkish Banker in Iran Sanctions Case

US to Appeal Sentence of Turkish Banker in Iran Sanctions CaseUS to Appeal Sentence of Turkish Banker in Iran Sanctions Case

US prosecutors plan to appeal the length of the prison term for a Turkish banker convicted of helping Iran evade sanctions.

Mehmet Hakan Atilla, who headed international banking at Turkiye Halk Bankasi AS, was sentenced to under three years in prison in May by US District Judge Richard Berman. Prosecutors sought at least 15 years.

The filing on Monday did not go into detail about the basis for appeal, Bloomberg reported.

The former banker was convicted in January after a trial in which evidence showed he coached participants on how to fabricate documents and participated in meetings where the evasion efforts were discussed.

However, Berman concluded he was an unwilling and at times unknowing participant in the process.

The chief defendant in the case, gold trader Reza Zarrab, pleaded guilty before trial and cooperated with the prosecution, testifying against Atilla.

Atilla has been in US custody since his arrest in March 2017 and received credit for time already served. He could be released by the middle of next year.

Turkey has slammed the sentencing. In a statement issued last month, the Turkish Foreign Ministry called the trial against Turkish state-run Halkbank employee “an entirely feigned process which is inconsistent with the principle of a fair trial”.

The ministry alleged the US court relied on “forged evidence and false statements” from members of the network of a US-based cleric accused of attempting to overthrow the Turkish government. A day after the United States imposed sanctions on several Iranian and Turkish companies last month in a move targeting Iranian airlines, Ankara’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hami Aksoy said Turkey will take every initiative to protect its companies from US sanctions.

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