Attorneys for Mehmet Hakan Atilla, convicted of assisting Reza Zarrab's oil sanctions evasion syndicate in illegally selling Iranian oil, have filed their initial brief. The appellant received a 32-month sentence after his conviction.
Cousel for Atilla has framed these issues on appeal:
(1) The trial court erred when it instructed the jury that it could convict Atilla of violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) if it found that he conspired to evade ort avoid the imposition of secondary sanctions.
(2) The appellant should be entitled to a Judgment of Acquittal, because the Government presented no evidence that he know the alleged scheme would involve US banks.
(3) The defendant should be acquitted because of the Court's interpretation of IEEPA sanctions regulations.
(4) The Court abused its discretion by precluding the defense from introducing recorded jailhouse conversations of Zarrab.
Most Federal criminal appeals statistically are affirmed, save obvious reversible error, as the courts generally do not wish to disturb a jury verdict, which in this case was unanimous.
As for Zarrab, he was seen by journalists staying in a downtown New York City hotel, under an alias, and not in law enforcement custody. This is extraordinary considering his previous guilty plea to criminal charges, which bring a possible life sentence. Given the strict nature of post-conviction policies, he may be cooperating with the intelligence services, who are more flexible in how they treat cooperating individuals.
He is known to be assisting the Office of Special Prosecutor in its ongoing investigations, but whether his assistance involves Russian interference in the US 2016 Election, or some other issue, is not known. Zarrab is known to have shipped large sums to Russia, one of which was seized by Turkish authorities, in the possession of Zarrab's driver.