By Ilhan Tanir, Washington, DC
As expected, the indictment of Deputy General Secretary of Halkbank, Mehmet Hakan Atilla who was arrested in New York at the end of March is combined with that of Reza Zarrab.
On November 7th, Preet Bharara of the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York announced a secondary indictment, charging the brother of Reza Zarrab, Mohammad Zarrab and demanded a 75 year term in prison for him. In addition to the existing charges for Zarrab, Mr. Bharara left the door open for a possible charge with aiding and abetting in war crimes.
In the November announcement, the defendants were claimed to violate the sanctions on Iranian Mahan Air through US based banks. Mahan Air was under US sanctions due to their support to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force and Hizballah.
Mehmet Hakan Atilla is added to new 29-page long a second superseding indictment, and from the amendments made in the previous indictment, it can be seen that Atilla is added but not much changed the earlier indictment from November.
The indictment of November 7th was 28 pages long. This new indictment including new Turkish companies was prepared right after the meeting took place between US Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Turkish Minister of Justice Bekir Bozdağ.
As it can be recalled, in the 12-page long arrest warrant for Atilla and in the following 27-page long indictment, there were very strong allegations such as that Atilla is involved in the circle managed by Zarrab and that he was taking part along with Zarrab and that he allowed Zarrab to exploit Halkbank in his banking fraud and financial dealings which violate and hurt US financial institutions. As a result, in radio talk show one day after Mr. Atilla’s arrest, it was mentioned that his case is very likely to be combined with Zarrab’s, which was realized earlier this week.
The 7th November indictment accused Mr. Zarrab, his brother Mohammad and their conspirators, which is now also involved Halkbank’s CEO Mr. Atilla, of paving the way for Mahan Air which supports the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force and Hizballah, who are also at the same time fighting against Syrian Opposition groups.
In another words, while AKP government has been heavily supporting Syrian opposition and Free Syrian Army, it has oversighted the contribution of Mr. Zarrab and his business partners to Hizballah and Iranian forces who were fighting against Syrian Rebels by evading Iran sanctions.
What is next?
The trial of Mehmet Hakan Atilla that was supposed to take place on April 10th is postponed to April 24th and the court will decide if he will be released with/without bail or kept in jail. When the allegations are read and his his arraignment hearing is done on April 24th, his case will be combined with Zarrab’s.
In the meantime, Zarrab will be in the Southern District court of New York and it will be decided if his new defense lawyers Mukasey and Giuliani are ethically compliant to this trial. Another post on Mukasey and Giuliani episode will come soon.