By Brendan Pierson
NEWYORK (Reuters) – A New York jury on Thursday began its second day of deliberations in the trial of a Turkish banker accused of helping Iran evade U.S. sanctions.
The jury had begun deliberating on Wednesday following the three-week trial of Mehmet Hakan Atilla, an executive at Turkey’s majority state-owned Halkbank.
At the centre of the trial was explosive testimony from Turkish-Iranian gold trader Reza Zarrab, who pleaded guilty to charges of violating sanctions and testified for U.S. prosecutors.
Zarrab testified that Atilla helped design fraudulent transactions of gold and food that allowed Iran to spend its oil and gas revenues abroad, including through U.S. financial institutions, defying U.S. sanctions.
Zarrab also implicated Turkish officials in the scheme, including President Tayyip Erdogan.
Attempts to reach Erdogan’s spokesman for comment on the allegations at the trial have been unsuccessful. Erdogan has publicly dismissed the case as a politically motivated attack on his government.
Atilla, testifying in his own defence at the trial, denied all the charges against him.
Halkbank has denied taking part in any illegal transactions.
U.S. prosecutors charged nine people in the criminal case, though only Zarrab, 34, and Atilla, 47, were arrested by U.S. authorities.
(Reporting by Brendan Pierson in New York; Editing by James Dalgleish)