A U.S. judge on Monday again postponed the sentencing for a former Turkish banker convicted of violating U.S. sanctions on Iran scheduled for May 7 to May 16.
Sentencing was pushed back because Turkish translators were unavailable for the earlier date, Judge Richard Berman said in a written statement, and added that the defense also made an "extensive submission" that the court has taken under review.
Previously, U.S. prosecutors asked the federal judge for at least 15 years in prison and a fine of between $50,000 and $500,000 for Mehmet Hakan Atilla, the former deputy CEO of state lender Halkbank.
In a 75-page petition to the court, Atilla's lawyers asked the judge for a "fair and merciful" sentence of between four to five years. Citing similar cases in which other national banks violated sanctions on Iran, the lawyers noted that none of the directors of those banks were arrested or sentenced, but Atilla, who had no connection with the U.S., is facing a prison term.
Defense lawyers also said evidence showed their client had been used by the "architect of this plot," Iranian-Turkish businessman Reza Zarrab.
Zarrab, who was arrested in the U.S. in March 2016 on charges of violating U.S. sanctions on Iran, pleaded guilty in the case last October, cooperated with prosecutors and testified against Atilla. Atilla's lawyers sought to dismiss all of the charges last December by citing insufficient evidence. They said prosecutors were unable to prove Atilla had any connection to Zarrab's crimes.
But on Jan. 3, Atilla was found guilty by a jury on five counts related to conspiracy and bank fraud, but acquitted on one count of money laundering.
A month later, Judge Berman turned down Atilla's lawyers' request to dismiss all charges due to lack of evidence, saying there was sufficient evidence to support the charges.
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