Home / Turkey US Relations / Update: Judge Berman rejected Turkish Banker Atilla’s bail package just like Zarrab’s

Update: Judge Berman rejected Turkish Banker Atilla’s bail package just like Zarrab’s

Ilhan Tanir, Washington DC

Update: This is an updated story from last week. Judge Berman, during a hearing this morning in New York South District, rejected bail package by Mr. Atilla.

New York South District Attorney filed a motion to demand federal judge Richard Berman to reject bail package of Mr. Mehmet Hakan Atilla, deputy general manager of publicly owned Turkish Halkbank, who was arrested in late March in New York JFK airport.

The government argued that ”There are no conditions that can reasonably assure the defendant’s appearance. Accordingly, the defendant’s application for bail should be denied, and the defendant should remain detained pending trial.”

Last week Atilla’s attorney asked Federal Judge Berman to dismiss charges, if not, seperate his case from Reza Zarrab’s.

The whole motion which is 25 page is here.

Among other things, the Southern District argued:

Mehmet Hakan Atilla is a sophisticated international banker, who is alleged to have used his position at Türkiye Halk Bankasi A.Ş. (“Halk Bank”), a Turkish government-owned bank, to aid the government of Iran’s evasion of national security controls imposed by the United States and deception of the U.S. and international banking system for years. The charges against Atilla involve massive fraud against U.S. banks and regulators and the corruption of Turkish bank and government officials to further that fraud. While Atilla tries to minimize the charges against him in his bail application, they are serious national security and financial offenses which carry a potential of decades in prison as punishment. That potential sentence – together with the Government’s substantial evidence of the scheme at large and Atilla’s involvement in it – create a powerful incentive for Atilla to flee if released.

The government emphasized:

In the face of this significant flight risk, there is no combination of conditions that would reasonably secure the defendant’s appearance in court, including the bail package proposed by Atilla.

Atilla is charged with:

conspiring from at least in or about 2010, up to and including in or about 2015 to violate : (1) the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (“IEEPA”), 50 U.S.C. § 1701 et seq., and the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations (“ITSR”), 31 C.F.R. Part 560 (Count Two, hereinafter referred to as the “IEEPA Count”); and (2) to commit bank fraud

Offense Conduct:

The Indictment alleges a scheme by the defendants to help evade U.S. sanctions on behalf of a wide array of designated Iranian government and government-owned entities. That scheme involved, among other things, the use of front companies, false documents, bulk cash shipments, and stripping of wire information. Through that scheme, the defendants helped the Government of Iran and Iranian entities process millions of dollars-worth of financial transactions through the U.S. financial system that the American financial institutions would not have otherwise processed. Atilla’s co-defendant, Reza Zarrab, owned and operated with his family a network of businesses in Turkey and the United Arab Emirates, including the Royal family of companies, Al Nafees Exchange, and Durak Doviz. (See Ind. ¶ 10). Using this network, Zarrab facilitated transactions through several U.S. financial institutions on behalf of several designated entities, including Bank Mellat, Mellat Exchange, NIOC, NICO, and Mahan Airlines. (See id. ¶ 18). At all relevant times alleged in the Indictment, Atilla was the Deputy General Manager of Halk Bank. (See Ind. ¶ 11). As described in the Indictment and the Complaint filed against Atilla (which is attached hereto as Exhibit B), Atilla’s role in the scheme to evade U.S. sanctions was primarily to use Halk Bank, along with others, to conceal Zarrab’s shipments of gold and currency to Iran that violated U.S. sanctions

The Government argues evidence against Atilla is strong and established conclusively the existence of the sanctions-avasion network dedicated to furthering the “Economic Jihad” referred to in the Zarrab draft letter:, Page 13, 14

The evidence against Atilla includes, among other things, emails and other electronic communications, intercepted telephone calls, and bank records. This evidence establishes conclusively the existence of the sanctions-evasion network dedicated to furthering the “Economic Jihad” referred to in the draft letter to Ayatollah Khamenei found in Zarrab’s email. Moreover, the evidence shows clearly that this network moved millions of dollars illegally for Iranian entities, including Bank Mellat, NIOC, NICO, and Mahan Air. (See id. ¶ 18). Furthermore, the evidence linking Atilla to the Halk Bank portion of the scheme is substantial. Through, among other things, intercepted communications and emails, the Government will establish at trial that Atilla knew that Zarrab was processing fraudulent transactions through Halk Bank, gave instructions on how to make the fraudulent documents more believable, helped facilitate those transactions, and did so knowing such transactions violated U.S. sanctions.

The Government also argued in its 25 page motion that there are emails, intercepted calls and others, page 14:

While Atilla feigns ignores in his bail application, the fact is that gas-for-gold activity at Halk Bank was a matter of considerable notoriety, which led to scrutiny of the bank by U.S. regulators. That scrutiny included direct communications between U.S. officials and employees of Halk Bank, including Atilla. And intercepted communications between Zarrab and Atilla and between Zarrab and other co-conspirators shows that Atilla was helping to facilitate transactions for Zarrab that were contradictory to assurances given to U.S. regulators. The Government’s case against Atilla is strong, and accordingly, this factor also weighs in favor of detention. See, e.g., United States v. Briggs, 697 F.3d 98, 102 (2d. Cir. 2012) (noting that fact that defendant was captured in intercepted communications demonstrated strength of Government’s case)

Update: Judge Berman, during a hearing this morning in New York South District, rejected bail package by Mr. Atilla.

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