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US Jury, Fails to Reach a Verdict Against Turkish Banker, to Reconvene in January

A New York jury, deliberating the fate of a Turkish banker who stands trial over charges of busting U.S. sanctions against Iran for three days, was unable to reach a verdict on Friday, Judge Richard Berman told the court. The jury will reconvene again on Jan. 3 for next round of deliberations.

Halkbank executive Mehmet Hakan Atilla appears as the sole defendant in a case that ruffled the Turkish authorities and strained bilateral relations.

The prosecution accuses the banker of orchestrating a gold trade scheme, which facilitated the isolated Iranian government to circumvent U.S.-led international sanctions to make its overseas payments.

Turkish-Iranian gold trader Reza Zarrab was the key figure spearheading the gold-for-oil arrangement on behalf of Iranians.

The businessman also earned the significant amount of profit for the risky endeavor that occurred with the full blessing of Turkish leaders.

Mr. Zarrab bribed former Turkish Foreign Minister Zafer Caglayan and Halkbank General Manager Suleyman Aslan to get their approval for the use of state-owned Halkbank for illicit gold trade, then sham food trade.

During his testimony, the businessman pointed to Mr. Atilla as the key architect of the technical process that facilitated his trade.

Defense attorneys of the Turkis banker staunchly refuse the charge that Mr. Atilla had co-conspired with Mr. Zarrab who decided to cooperate with the U.S. prosecutors for a lenient sentence, became a “star witness” in the case.

As the deliberations entered its third day on Friday, jurors asked for some of the evidence, photos and video exhibit, and some parts of the testimony for re-assessment in the deliberation room.

The prosecution and the defense plunged into a squabble over the interpretation of a legal term as the jury asked for clarifications for some of the accusations and terms in the indictment.

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