On May 16, 2018, Mehmet Atilla, the Turkish banker (Halkbank) who assisted Reza Zarrab and his criminal syndicate covertly sell sanctioned Iranian oil, will be sentenced. His attorneys have suggested four or five years. The US Attorney's Office wants more than the 15 1/2 years the guidelines suggest; it wants something around twenty years, due to the severity of the defendant's crime, and the fact that he facilitated billions of dollars in payments to Iran, in violation of international sanctions. He is the first foreign banker sentenced for Iran sanctions violations.
Additionally, defence counsel filed an affidavit, executed by an expert in Bureau of Prisons (BOP) procedures, who suggests designation to a Federal Correctional Institution in Danbury, Connecticut, due to the defendant's need to have easy access to Turkish diplomats, and to assist in his anticipated Second Circuit appeal. As a non-national, he does not qualify to be sent to a minimum-security camp, hence the FCI request.
Will Atilla get serious time, to deter others from assisting sanctions evaders? Atilla's working relationship with Zarrab's partners, Babak Zanjani, Alireza Monfared, and Mohammad Reza Rajaie'h has not been made public by Federal prosecutors, leading to the assumption that some of those individuals may have sealed indictments awaiting them in New York.
Chronicles of Monte Friesner - Financial Crime Analyst
Contributed by Kenneth Rijock - Financial Crime Consultant