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Turkish banker sentenced to 32 months in US over sanctions evasion scheme

[JURIST] Judge Richard Berman of the US District Court for Southern District of New York [official website] on Wednesday sentenced [transcript, PDF] former banker at the Turkish state-owned bank Halkbank, Mehmet Hakan Atilla, to 32 months in prison for aiding Iran in evading US sanctions.

Atilla was convicted in January for conspiring with other officials. According to the prosecution, Atilla backed a scheme allowing billions in profit from Iranian oil sales to flow through world financial markets since 2011. The judge, however, gave Atilla a light sentence, finding he was a "somewhat of a cog in the wheel, and ... a somewhat reluctant one."

Turkey's Foreign Ministry criticized [press release] the sentencing, calling the trial "an entirely feigned process which is inconsistent with the principle of fair trial." Turkey asserted that the evidence came from those alleged to have orchestrated a coup against the government thereby "eradict[ing] the legitimacy of the trial." Turkey also argued that the US had no authority to convict and sentence a foreign government official.

Atilla was given credit for the 14 months already served. However, the sentencing has further strained relations [Al Jazeera report] between the US and Turkey.

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