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Borsa Istanbul chief Mehmet Hakan Atilla resigns

hakan atilla
Hakan Atilla

Borsa İstanbul General Manager Mehmet Hakan Atilla announced his official resignation on Monday. He had previously stated that he was taking a six-month leave from his post.

Former Halkbank Deputy General Manager Atilla was tried in the US for the bank’s violation of Iran sanctions, and in May 2018 the court gave him a 32-month prison sentence. Atilla was released in July 2019. There was also a civil suit in the US against the state-owned Halkbank, which was filed by victims of attacks by groups linked to Iran; this was dismissed by the court on the condition that the sides reach an agreement to carry on with the case in Turkey.

Another case, however, is being brought in New York against Halkbank, and hearings are expected to start in May. Halkbank will face charges of fraud, money laundering and sanctions offences. US prosecutors allege Iran funnelled some $20 billion in oil revenue through Halkbank to sidestep sanctions for its nuclear programme in 2012 and 2013.

After being released in the United States returned to Turkey, Atilla, was appointed as General Manager of Istanbul Stock Exchange in October 2019. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development sold its 10 per cent stake in Halkbank to the Turkish Wealth Fund after opposing Atilla’s appointment.

Now, US pressure was reportedly a factor leading to his resignation. The Turkish government is trying to improve diplomatic relations with the US.

The Biden White House, on the other hand, has described Turkey as a mutual concern for both Washington and the EU.

In an interview with Deutsche Welle on January 26, James Jeffrey, former US special envoy for Syria, said he did not anticipate any improvement in US-Turkey ties under Biden. He said Ankara failed to seize the “opportunities” on offer during the administration of former US President Donald Trump, failing to make any move to reach compromises.

Last December, Washington imposed sanctions on Ankara — including a ban on issuing export licences — over the S-400 acquisition, having already removed its NATO ally from the F-35 fighter jet program, despite the  fac that several parts of the aircraft being manufactured in Turkey.

A terse statement made by on Monday Borsa Istanbul said: “Borsa İstanbul A.Ş. General Manager Mr. Due to the resignation of Mehmet Hakan Atilla from his position of General Manager as of 08.03.2021 at his own request, his resignation was accepted with the decision of the Board of Directors dated 08.03.2021. The decision of our Stock Exchange has been notified to the Capital Markets Board.”

Halkbank shares, traded in Borsa Istanbul, gained more than 5 per cent after the news of the resignation.

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