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Halkbank exec sentenced in US may be allowed to return to Turkey

Hakan Atilla, the former Türkiye Halk Bankası AŞ deputy director general sentenced to prison in the U.S. for helping Iran evade American sanctions, may return to Turkey, Reuters reported Dec. 25, citing Hürriyet, which quoted Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu.

Atilla, scheduled for release in July 2019, may be allowed to return to Turkey to serve the rest of his 32-month prison sentence following an improvement in diplomatic relations between Turkey and the U.S., with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan having already discussed the Halkbank case with U.S. President Donald Trump, the report noted.

The case against Atilla is among several issues that had strained relations between the two countries. A U.S. attorney recently rejected a bid to extend the former Halkbank executive's sentence after having served 14 months in prison.

Turkish Finance Minister Berat Albayrak said in September that he expects the lender to emerge "completely clean" and to not face any financial penalties over the sanctions violation case.