NEW YORK (Reuters) - Jurors in the U.S. trial of Mehmet Hakan Atilla, an executive at Turkey’s majority state-owned Halkbank who is charged with helping Iran evade U.S. sanctions, asked in a note on Wednesday what they should do if they agree on some of the charges against Atilla but not others.
Atilla is charged with bank fraud, money laundering and four separate conspiracy charges. U.S. District Judge Richard Berman said he would tell the jury in response to the note that they should continue deliberating and try to reach a verdict.
Wednesday was the jury’s fourth day deliberating on the case, which has strained diplomatic relations between the United States and Turkey.
At the centre of the three-week trial was 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 has denied all of 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; Editing by Alistair Bell