Turkish banker trial continues in US

Halbank denies any wrongdoing in its foreign trade transactions after Mehmet Hakan Atilla was arrested last month on charges of conspiring to evade US sanctions on Iran.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

The judge (L), attorney Gerald J DiChiara (C) and Mehmet Hakan Atilla (R), a deputy general manager of Halkbank, in the Manhattan federal court in New York, US, March 28, 2017.

Halkbank Deputy General Manager Mehmet Hakan Atilla was arrested last month in New York on charges of conspiring to evade trade sanctions on Iran, however, the bank has strenuously denied any wrongdoing.

Atilla is accused of using his position in the bank to help Turkish-Iranian gold trader Reza Zarrab, who is also being held by US authorities, of conducting hundreds of millions of dollars of illegal transactions through US banks on behalf of Iran's government and other entities in that country. US prosecutors say such actions contravene sanctions against Iran.

Halkbank denies any wrongdoing

Halkbank said the bank has not intermediated any transaction in which a prohibited person or services were involved.

The state lender said in a statement on March 30 that its foreign trade transactions – including those with Iran – were "open," "transparent" and "observable."

Denying any wrongdoing, the bank said news “discrediting” its operations and misleading the public had been circulating since the arrest of its senior executives.  

TRT World's Azhar Sukri has more on the story.

Diplomatic tiff

The arrest also became a diplomatic issue. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu discussed it with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson when he visited Turkey a day after Atilla's arrest.

"We believe and we see that this is a completely political process, including the arrest of Zarrab. Because former US attorney Preet Bharara has close relations with FETO," Cavusoglu said during his meeting with Tillerson.

FETO is the Turkish acronym for the organisation of US-based Fethullah Gulen, whom Ankara accuses of masterminding the July 15, 2016 attempted coup.

TRTWorld and agencies