Turkey has appointed former Halkbank executive Hakan Atilla, who served time in a US jail over Iran sanctions breaches, as the new Chief Executive Officer of Boursa Istanbul, reported Bloomberg.
The selection of Atilla, who returned to Turkey in July, was announced by Treasury and Finance Minister Berat Albayrak.
In a tweet, Albayrak said, “Hakan Atilla, who has returned to the country after an unjust conviction, has come to end of his resting period, he’s starting his job as the CEO of Borsa Istanbul.”
In a statement, Borsa Istanbul said that Atilla will replace Murat Cetinkaya, who was appointed as a Deputy Governor at the central bank on 30 August 2019.
The former Halkbank executive was convicted by a New York court in early 2018 on allegations of helping Iran evade economic sanctions on billions of dollars of oil revenue. Atilla served 28 months in a US prison and received a hero’s welcome from government officials on his release.
“This is a great day, our brother Hakan has returned home unscathed and he will have a good holiday, rest—hopefully we will talk again in the coming days,” said Albayrak. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan telephoned Atilla upon his arrival back in Turkey.
Atilla’s naming to the role comes less than a week after US prosecutors brought a criminal case against Halkbank in what appeared to some to be a reprimand for Ankara’s decision to send troops into Syria. In the indictment, the bank was accused of aiding a wide-ranging plot to violate prohibitions on Iran’s access to the US financial system.
Halkbank rejected the accusations, saying the indictment appeared to largely repeat allegations used during Atilla’s trial and was part of the sanctions introduced over Turkey’s military operation in Syria.