Turkish banker gets 32 months prison in US case over Iran sanctions

Turkish banker to be sentenced in US court straining relations

Atilla sentenced to 32 months in US prison over evading Iran sanctions

Reports say USA prosecutors wanted 15 years sentence for Atilla but the bankers lawyers sought a sentence of less than four years.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has condemned the sentence describing it as a political attack on his government even as the case has strained diplomatic relations between the USA and Ankara.

A USA judge sentenced Mehmet Hakan Atilla, a banker at Turkey's state-controlled Halkbank, to 32 months in prison on Wednesday after he was convicted earlier this year of taking part in a scheme to help Iran evade U.S. sanctions.

Atilla's sentencing was postponed twice and previously, prosecutors asked a federal judge to sentence him to at least 15 years in prison and a fine of $50,000- $500,000. The Prosecutor's office asked to sentence the banker nearly to 20 years in prison.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan denounced the case and once again defended Atilla's innocence in an interview on Bloomberg TV before the sentencing.

Judge Berman noted the feverish pitch of some observers of Atilla's trial, particularly in Turkey, when he promised to make a transcript of the sentencing available to the public later Wednesday.

"What we need to show the world in proceedings such as this, especially today, especially now, is that we Americans aren't bullies", he said.

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"Apart from my family, I have no other priorities", the statement said.

Atilla was found guilty on January 3 of conspiring to violate USA sanctions law.

The trial against Atilla "was not legal but political", Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdag said on his Tweeter account.

They say he abused his top position at a state-owned Turkish bank a decade ago to help Iran circumvent USA sanctions and access frozen assets.

It went onto say that the court relied on "forged evidence and false statements" of Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) members - the group behind the 2016 failed coup in Turkey - which it said "eradicated the legitimacy of the trial".

"Mehmet Hakan Atilla helped execute an audacious scheme to circumvent our nation's Iran sanctions regime by engaging in billions of dollars' worth of deceptive transactions", Berman said.

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