Turkish bank exec charged in U.S. case on Iran sanctions evasion

Reuters News
Posted: Mar 28, 2017 1:34 PM

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. authorities have arrested an executive of a Turkish state-owned bank who is accused of conspiring to evade U.S. sanctions on Iran.

Mehmet Hakan Atilla, a deputy general manager of Turkey's Halkbank, is alleged to have conspired with Turkish gold trader Reza Zarrab, according to a criminal complaint filed in federal court in New York.

U.S. prosecutors have charged the Iranian-born Zarrab and others of engaging in hundreds of millions of dollars worth of transactions for Iran's government and Iranian entities from 2010 to 2015 in a scheme to evade U.S. sanctions.

Atilla is expected to appear in court in New York on Tuesday afternoon, according to the U.S. Attorney's office in Manhattan.

Turkish officials contacted by Reuters said they had no information on the arrest.

Zarrab and the other defendants tricked numerous U.S. banks into processing barred transactions by using front companies and creating false invoices, according to prosecutors.

The case has been closely watched in Turkey, where Zarrab was arrested in 2013 in a corruption probe into people with close ties to President Tayyip Erdogan, who was then the prime minister.

(Reporting by Brendan Pierson and Joseph Ax; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Cynthia Osterman)