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US seeks at least 15-year sentence for Turkish banker


U.S. prosecutors on Wednesday asked a federal judge to sentence a former Turkish banker convicted of violating U.S. sanctions on Iran to at least 15 years in prison, APA reports quoting Anadolu Agency.

 

In a filling in a Manhattan federal court, prosecutors said the standard sentence for Mehmet Hakan Atilla, former deputy CEO of Turkey's majority state-owned Halkbank, would be 105 years. But they suggested an alternative calculation that would result in a 15 to 20-year term that is in line with similar cases.

 

Prosecutors also asked the court to impose a monetary punishment.

 

"The government also respectfully requests that the Court impose a substantial fine within the guidelines range of $50,000 to $500,000," it said, claiming that Atilla’s involvement in the violation of the sanctions created "immense risks" to U.S. national security.

 

In a 75-page petition to the court, Atilla's lawyers asked the judge for a "fair and merciful" sentence of between 4 to 5 years.

 

Citing similar cases in which other national banks violated sanctions against Iran, the lawyers noted that none of the directors of those banks were arrested or sentenced but Atilla, who had no connection with the U.S., is facing a life sentence.

 

Defense lawyers also said evidence showed their client had been used by the “architect of this plot", businessman Riza Sarraf.

 

Sarraf, who was arrested in the U.S. in March 2016 and accused of violating U.S. sanctions on Iran, pleaded guilty in the case last October and cooperated with prosecutors. He testified against Atilla.

 

Atilla’s lawyers sought to dismiss all charges last December, citing insufficient evidence. They said prosecutors were unable to prove Atilla had a connection with the crimes committed by Sarraf.

 

But on Jan. 3, Atilla was found guilty by a jury on five counts related to conspiracy and bank fraud but was acquitted of money laundering.

 

A month later, a New York judge turned down a request by Atilla to acquit him of all charges due to lack of evidence, saying there was “sufficient evidence” to support the charges.

 

Atilla will be sentenced on April 11. If he receives a sentence in line with the request by prosecutors, defense lawyers plan to appeal.

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