Home / Washington / Halkbank’s top executive officially arrested in New York a day before Sec Tillerson’s visit to Ankara

Halkbank’s top executive officially arrested in New York a day before Sec Tillerson’s visit to Ankara

By Ilhan Tanir

Turkey’s largest publicly traded state lender, Halkbank’s top official arrested in New York JKF airport upon arrival.

Sources to WHattı stated that Mehmet Hakan Atilla was arrested in relations to Reza Zarrab case.

His arrest warrant issued. It’s unknown however whether Mr. Atilla was aware of the arrest warrant on him.

According to Reuters reports, Atilla will face the judge today, afternoon.

M.H.Atilla charged with ”conspiring with others, including Reza Zarrab, a/k/a “Riza Sarraf,” to use the U.S. financial system to conduct transactions on behalf of the Government of Iran and other Iranian entities, which were barred by United States sanctions, and to defraud U.S. financial institutions by concealing the true nature of these transactions.”

Atilla was arrested on March 27, 2017, and will be presented later today in Manhattan federal court before United States Magistrate Judge James C. Francis IV.

Arrest is made a day before US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s visit to Ankara, which is going to be taken place tomorrow.

This arrest will certainly add tension to Secretary Tillerson’s first visit to Ankara.

Mehmet Hakan Atilla, a Turkish banker, accused of participating ”in a years-long scheme to violate American sanctions laws by helping Reza Zarrab, a major gold trader, use U.S. financial institutions to engage in prohibited financial transactions that illegally funneled millions of dollars to Iran. As alleged in the criminal complaint unsealed today, Atilla worked with Zarrab to create and use fraudulent documents to try to disguise prohibited Iranian financial transactions as food that would qualify under the humanitarian exception to the sanctions regime.”

US Department of Justice issued statement regarding Atilla’s arrest and said:

“Complaint Further Alleges That the Defendant Used His Position at Turkish Bank to Facilitate Access to the U.S. Financial System and to Conceal International Financial Transactions for Iranian Entities in Violation of U.S. Sanctions”

Joon H. Kim, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and William F. Sweeney Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), announced the unsealing of a Complaint charging MEHMET HAKAN ATILLA with conspiring with others, including Reza Zarrab, a/k/a “Riza Sarraf,” to use the U.S. financial system to conduct transactions on behalf of the Government of Iran and other Iranian entities, which were barred by United States sanctions, and to defraud U.S. financial institutions by concealing the true nature of these transactions. ATILLA was arrested on March 27, 2017, and will be presented later today in Manhattan federal court before United States Magistrate Judge James C. Francis IV.”

”As alleged, Mehmet Hakan Atilla, a Turkish banker, participated in a years-long scheme to violate American sanctions laws by helping Reza Zarrab, a major gold trader, use U.S. financial institutions to engage in prohibited financial transactions that illegally funneled millions of dollars to Iran. As alleged in the criminal complaint unsealed today, Atilla worked with Zarrab to create and use fraudulent documents to try to disguise prohibited Iranian financial transactions as food that would qualify under the humanitarian exception to the sanctions regime. United States sanctions are not mere requests or suggestions; they are the law. And those who use the American financial system to violate the sanctions laws, as Atilla is alleged to have done, will be investigated and prosecuted aggressively. I thank the FBI and the career prosecutors in my Office for their tireless work and dedication in this and other important investigations of alleged sanctions violators.”

Bloomberg has a background: A senior executive at one of Turkey’s largest state-owned banks was arrested in the U.S., accused of conspiring with an Iranian-Turkish financier who is awaiting trial on charges that he used his network of companies to circumvent federal sanctions on Iran.

Mehmet Hakan Atilla, a deputy chief executive officer at Turkiye Halk Bankasi AS, was taken into U.S. custody at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York on Tuesday, according to a person familiar with the arrest. He was detained on suspicion of conspiring to execute transactions on behalf of Iran.

The arrest was made in connection with the pending prosecution of Reza Zarrab. The U.S. has said it has evidence that Zarrab paid millions of dollars in bribes to Turkish government officials and top executives at Halkbank, as it is commonly known, which allegedly helped Zarrab process the transactions.

Zarrab was a key figure in a 2013 scandal, in which Turkish prosecutors accused him of bribing the country’s cabinet ministers in a gold-trading operation worth at least $12 billion, a charge he denied. Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called the investigation a coup attempt, and all charges against Zarrab and members of his administration were eventually dropped.

Zarrab, owner and operator of Royal Holdings A.S., is accused of using his multibillion-dollar network of companies in Turkey and the United Arab Emirates to induce U.S. banks to launder hundreds of millions of dollars in transactions that violated international sanctions against Iran. He was arrested in Miami in March 2016 after arriving in the U.S. for a family trip to Disney World and remains in detention.

Check Also

Scandals during interpretations of Erdogan’s remarks into English! But how is this possible?

Ilhan Tanir Ela Gonca İzmirli During the joint statement session with the US President Donald …