Mehmet Atilla, the number two at Turkey's state-run Halkbank, who aided Reza Zarrab's organization in moving $4bn in illegal Iranian oil profits, was sentenced today to only thirty-two (32) months of incarceration by a US District Judge in New York. Federal prosecutors had recommended 15 to 20 years, as Atilla was a major player in the massive oil-for-gold sanctions evasion scheme.
Atilla was convicted of:
(1) Conspiracy to Defraud the United States.
(2) Conspiracy to violate the IEEPA.
(3) Bank Fraud.
(4) Conspiracy to Commit Bank Fraud.
(5) Conspiracy to Commit Money Laundering.
Whether the sentence is insufficient as a means of punishment, and not an effective deterrent to others is not an easy question to answer. There may have been, or will be, Substantial Assistance, rendered by the defendant, that will materially aid the investigation, and subsequent indictment of other conspirators in the reportedly $13bn sanctions evasion scheme. As it stands now, with his pretrial detention time, he will complete his short sentence in 2019. Why the preferential treatment?
Will Atilla implicate Babak Zanjani, Alireza Monfared, and the other leaders of the global Iran sanctions evasion cartel? Does Atilla also have a diplomatic passport issued by the Commonwealth of Dominica? We hope that there is a second phase to this case, so that we may be able to get some answers.
Chronicles of Monte Friesner - Financial Crime Analyst
Contributed by Kenneth Rijock - Financial Crime Consultant