'Scandalous Decision': How A Turkish Banker's Conviction In US Is Roiling Ankara


Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday blasted the U.S. and Israel for their "meddling" in the internal affairs of Iran and Pakistan.

On Thursday, Turkey's foreign ministry said the case was based on "pseudo-evidence that was fraudulent and open to political abuse", accusing the USA of "unprecedented intervention in Turkey's domestic affairs".

A NY jury on Wednesday convicted a Turkish banker for his role in helping Iran evade American sanctions at the end of a trial that roiled relations between Washington and Ankara amid allegations of corruption at the highest levels of political life in Turkey.

Referring to Western media reports and remarks made by certain USA and Israeli officials with respect to the protests, the Turkish president said his country was familiar with the West's media propaganda campaign and "hackneyed, meddlesome" comments by the U.S. president and Israeli prime minister.

Zarrab testified that Atilla helped design fraudulent transactions of gold and food that allowed Iran to spend its oil and gas revenues overseas, including through USA financial institutions, defying US sanctions.

Prosecutors had accused Atilla of conspiring with gold trader Reza Zarrab and others to help Iran escape sanctions using fraudulent gold and food transactions.

The Halkbank executive, Mehmet Atilla, was convicted on five of six counts, including bank fraud and conspiracy to violate US sanctions law.

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Prosecutors said Atilla, 47, participated in a scheme to launder $1 billion of Iranian oil and gas revenue through US banks in violation of USA sanctions, saying he conspired with trader Reza Zarrab, 34, by using fraudulent gold and food transactions. The paper also notes the court has prepared an "extradition request to be sent to the USA for the suspect".

But jurors found Atilla not guilty on a money laundering charge.

Zarrab alleged top Turkish officials, including Erdogan, personally authorised two Turkish banks to join the scheme when he was prime minister, in addition to other ministers.

Atilla has denied all of the charges against him. Zarrab testified at the trial that Erdogan had ordered the transactions go forward.

Erdogan has repeatedly rejected the allegations, saying Turkey did not violate the USA embargo on Iran and that political rivals were behind the case. His lawyers have stressed they will appeal the verdict.

Atilla faces decades in a U.S. prison when he is set to be sentenced on April 11.

Atilla is a deputy general manager at Turkey's state-run Halkbank. Erdogan also reiterated that Turkey backs Rouhani's statement in which he upheld Iranians' right to protest but urged them not to violate laws.