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Turkey stock exchange names former jailed Halkbank exec as CEO

Turkey's Borsa İstanbul AS named Mehmet Hakan Atilla as CEO and a board member, replacing Murat Çetinkaya who was named deputy governor of the Turkish central bank, according to an Oct. 21 statement.

In May 2018, Atilla was sentenced to 32 months in a U.S. prison after being found guilty of helping Iran evade U.S. financial sanctions. He was Türkiye Halk Bankası AŞ' deputy director-general at the time.

Atilla was released in July and subsequently returned to Turkey. His appointment to head the stock exchange comes days after U.S. prosecutors filed charges against Halkbank for taking part in a multibillion-dollar scheme to evade U.S. sanctions against Iran.

Meanwhile, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, which owns a 10% stake in the Istanbul stock exchange, has opposed Atilla's appointment at the company, Reuters reported, citing the EBRD's managing director for communications, Jonathan Charles.

Charles told the newswire that the lender was not consulted over the appointment and will discuss the matter with authorities. The potential conflict further increases tensions between Turkey and the EBRD over problems related to realizing projects and keeping promises, according to a source close to the bank.